The Galley House emerged out of the context of studying patterns of the evolving typological landscape in Toronto, and the desire over the past century to maintain natural light within spaces affected by an urban block-type progressively becoming more dense and refined. The aim was to consider the project prototypically: how a new, slender detached housing type in Toronto can be viable in terms of square footage while not shortchanging itself on natural light. This attempt to re-use leftover lots by reforming typologies is hoped to be a sound approach to building in the North American city.


Design concept and solution: The clients had a long, narrow urban-infill site just west of Toronto’s downtown core, on a side residential street where lots are typically 25-feet wide, almost double in width than this particular lot. The 2,400-square-foot house is a three-story single-family dwelling 62-feet long with clear width dimensions of less than 12 feet—there are no windows on the side faces due to the municipal code restraints. The house has three bedrooms, and a double-height family room that opens to the street. The backside opens to the north, with a sunken garden court extending from a 13-foot-tall kitchen space through a pivot-window/back door combination.

The stairs were custom designed in response to the “slimmer” allowances for stair openings and with the ambition to allow more light into the house. The front stair facing the street is formed from 3/8-inch-thick laser-cut plates with a “billowing” underside to bring light into the living room below while “shaping” supply air toward the glass from the column beneath; the same stair also provides a structural brace to laterally support the fully glazed upper front elevation. A “light scoop” was introduced over the kitchen to avoid direct exposure to the neighbors—for fire and privacy reasons—while allowing sunlight to diffuse evenly through the space.

Total construction cost: Withheld

Donald Chong Studio
235 Carlaw Avenue, Suite 400
Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4M 2S1
P: 416.818.1983
F: 416.703.7754


Donald Chong Studio
235 Carlaw Avenue, Suite 400
Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4M 2S1
P: 416.818.1983
F: 416.703.7754

Project team
Derek Nicholson, Inc

Interiors and lighting:
White Studio (Karen White)

Structural Engineering
Blackwell Bowick Partnership

Geotechnical Consultants
Haddad Geotechnical

Mechanical Consultants
Thomas Technical

Bob Gundu
Steven Evans

Design Team
Donald Chong, Chris Routley, Sandy McIntosh (models)



Miscellaneous Metals
George Pietras

Custom Metal Fabrication
Etmeco Ltd.

Custom Milwork
Daniel Thompson Furniture and Cabinets

Kitchen Cabinetry