Alpha-Bau Renovate an Old Workers Rowhouse in Toronto

This 19th century workers rowhouse has been revamped by the Toronto-based architecture company Aleph-Bau. The narrow house is located in the neighborhood of Summerhill in Toronto.


The project, dubbed Twelve Tacoma, was completed in 2016. The works saw the complete overhaul of its interior, and rear exterior. The only section not modernized by the renovation was the front elevation, which had to maintain status quo with the street.



At its widest, the house measures just under 14-feet (4.27-meters). However what it lacks in width is made up for in length and height. Each floor has a different length, but most fall into the range of 40 to 50-feet (12 to 15 meters). The homes four levels add up to give it an impressive floor area.



From the street, Twelve Tacoma is deceptively small in appearance. It looks like every other rowhouse; a quaint little two-story house. On the inside the quaintness is dropped and gives way to a contemporary aesthetic, filled with white walls, steel elements and glass.


The narrowness of the house is overcome through the use of vaulted ceilings, open living spaces that run the length of the home, and lots of large windows (particularly to the rear of the home). These elements, coupled with the light finishes, help to create a bright and airy atmosphere.


The first floor is dedicated to the public living spaces. From the entrance you’re taken through to the living room. This is followed by a dining room and the kitchen. The staircase separates the living room from the kitchen and dining area, although they’ve made use of a lightweight steel staircase to minimize its impact.


Going downwards, the basement contains a bedroom, an entertainment space and an area for laundry. In the opposite direction the second and third floors are dedicated to the master bedroom and bathroom, a walk-in closet, and a sheltered balcony. From the designers: “Aleph-Bau’s project amplifies the sensory, imaginative and intellectual relationship to traditional architecture in an intense dialogue with its urban context and surrounding natural elements.”


For more houses check out this basement unit that’s been redesigned by HDD for a family and their 40 cats. Or, Smelynes House, a small minimalist home for a family of four. See all small houses.

Photos © Tom Arban, Kunaal Mohan

Niall Burke

Structural engineer by day, tiny house designer by night. Niall has a keen interest in small spaces, green design, and sustainability. He started developing Humble Homes while studying for his masters degree in engineering. He is the founder and managing editor of Humble Homes.

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