Grange Triple Double

A corner lot in Toronto’s gritty Chinatown neighbourhood is the site for a multi-unit and multi-generational housing prototype. Stacking a rental unit, a grandparent’s suite, and living spaces for a young family on a double-wide lot allows, this modest home recognizes the possibilities of intensification latent in the morphology of Toronto’s urban fabric.

This project begins with the blending of two households into one. A professional couple with a young son sells their small one-bedroom condominium; The grandparents downsize after becoming empty nesters. Together, they construct a scenario for living that allows for autonomy while mutually benefitting from the close connection this family has. The grandparents adore looking after their young grandchild and embrace the security of being looked after as they age. The professional couple is afforded a single family home in a city that is rapidly becoming unaffordable to young families. Ground floor and basement rental units which are typical in this neighbourhood given its proximity to the University, allow the family to maximize built form in a city that has ever increasing land values and construction costs.

Research into the allowable unit types previously approved by the City provides the raw material for the spatial organization of the project.  A second suite, plus a duplex, plus a bed-sitting room gives us the right mix of unit types to make this project work, albeit in an unconventional form.

A corner lot, formerly housing a dilapidated duplex, allows density to be split between the house and generous outdoor spaces. The extended family shares a private courtyard where the cooking and living spaces can spill out into the garden while the grandparents and young couple each have private and protected terraces.

The massing of the house resists the overt spatial diagram of this multi-generational scenario and intentionally conflates the units into a single gesture that holds the urban corner. Rising towards Grange Ave., the stepped section reaches the maximum height permitted by city zoning ordinances. Morphologically, this rising form reinforces the existing urban fabric on the corner of Grange and Huron Avenues, while the resulting double-height section of the upper-most bedroom suite is topped by an operable skylight that promotes strong, natural ventilation from the lower levels via a linear, double-run stair. Windows on the ground floor can be opened to allow fresh cool air to flow up the staircase and out the uppermost skylight.

A section through the stair exposes the unexpected window to volume relationship that occurs as a product of the democratic façade that gives each unit the exact same amount of glass. The facade materials were chosen for warmth and durability; the brick facade was painted white to unify batches of ‘left-over’ bricks the supplier deeply discounted for this low-budget build.

Future scenarios project the family using the spaces of the house and apartments in a variety of ways. The children can move into a rental unit as they gain independence, the parents move into the ground floor apartment while the kids are in university and rent out the main house to another family, then the family comes together again in the future as the couple ages and their children have their own families. Discreet millwork components can be removed to connect the units and allow ageing grandparents to live on one floor in a small apartment that is connected to the shared family spaces. Spaces that are shared yet autonomous and discreet yet flexible are the components that create this new type of home.

A corner lot in Toronto’s gritty Chinatown neighbourhood is the site for a multi-unit and multi-generational housing prototype. Stacking a rental unit, a grandparent’s suite, and living spaces for a young family on a double-wide lot allows, this modest home recognizes the possibilities of intensification latent in the morphology of Toronto’s urban fabric.

A project completed by Williamson Chong

Project News

Grange Triple Double Receives a 2016 Innovation in Sustainability Award from the CaGBC Greater Toronto Chapter

Each year the CaGBC Greater Toronto Chapter Chapter hosts its annual Innovation Awards Program which distinguishes  individuals in the green building industry, as well as projects in Southern Ontario which go above and beyond the normal scope of sustainable best practices. Grange Triple Double was selected by the jury as the winner for the Innovation in Sustainability Award. Grange is a project with a story about multi-generational living that we are eager to talk about.  It is a part of a larger conversation focused upon keeping the ageing in their own neighborhoods, and designing for both affordability and long-term programmatic flexibility.

Grange Triple Double profiled in Monocle Magazine as part of Housing: Generation Gaps

Grange Triple Double is profiled in the recent issue of Monocle as part of a piece titled Generation Gaps [Housing]. Sophie Grove puts forward the preface that “Our grandparents deserve a better standard of care and that calls for a multigenerational approach – hence a new model that makes the presence of youth in old people’s homes a central tenet.” She notes that “while many of us might baulk at the thought of sharing close quarters with elderly in-laws, the careful configuration of the Grange Triple Double (with its series of courtyards, decks and large communal areas) provides the family with privacy and the possibility to adapt the spaces as their circumstances change.”

Grange Triple Double chosen for the WOOD 2016/TRÄ 2016 Exhibition

The Grange Triple Double House was chosen for the WOOD 2016/TRÄ 2016 exhibition in Virserum Art Museum in Sweden.

The projects of the exhibition were chosen via a triennial, international architecture competition, Architecture of Necessity. The competition and exhibition aim to gather and present ideas and solutions for sustainable architecture.

The WOOD 2016/TRÄ 2016 exhibition is one of the largest exhibitions in Northern Europe in wood and sustainable architecture and is on display until December 4th.

An exhibition catalogue, Välkommen till framtiden (“Welcome to the future”), has also been released.

Grange Triple Double published in SABMag

As the recipient of a 2016 Canadian Green Building Award, Grange Triple Double is featured in the Summer issue of SABMag (Sustainable Architecture & Building Magazine)

Grange Triple Double Receives a 2016 Canadian Green Building Award

Grange Triple Double is the recipient of a 2016 Canadian Green Building Award from the Canada Green Building Council [CaGBC]. Winning projects will be published in the Summer issues of SABMag and ecoHouse Canada, and on websites, and

Grange Triple Double Selected as 2016 OAA Award of Excellence Finalist

Grange Triple Double has been named a finalist for an Award of Excellence from the Ontario Association of Architects. The Awards of Excellence recognize the innovative skills of Ontario architects in creating spaces, buildings, and communities that respect and enhance the environment and enrich human activity. Award recipients will be honoured at the Celebration of Excellence Awards Ceremony at the 2016 OAA Annual Conference in May.

A Wide Grange of Ideas

Martha Uniacke Breen, "A Wide Grange of Ideas", National Post, April 2, 2016, ph.1, ph4.

Writer Martha Breen eloquently tells the story of the Grange Triple Double. The house is a contemporary contextualization of the site and neighborhood while at the same time, a forward thinking solution for the ‘sandwich generation,’ describing how a young family can accommodate the needs of both children and parents on an urban lot in downtown Toronto. “The house is dynamic both inside and out; it was designed so that it can be adapted as needs change.” The ground floor rental unit can be connected to the home’s living spaces if the grandparents require a fully accessible unit at grade.  For the time being, they rather enjoy the view from the third floor with it’s large private deck!

There are more images and the full article here or here.


Architecture for the Ages

Alex Bozikovic, “Architecture for the Ages,” The Globe and Mail, February 25, 2016.

“Young adults are getting squeezed out of the housing market. Their parents, meanwhile, want to downsize without leaving familiar neighbourhoods. The solution couldn’t be simpler to a growing group of designers: Rethink (and rebuild) the family home to suit several generations for the long haul.

…Such adaptability can be built into a house’s architecture. One example is the Grange Triple Double, a house by Williamson Chong Architects: Their clients, a Toronto couple in their 30s with a young son, decided to move in with the wife’s parents. They built a bespoke house that would accommodate them all together with rental income – and then change, multiple times, as the family’s needs evolve through the decades.”

Alex Bozikovic investigates the growing trend of multigenerational homes in Toronto in his latest Globe and Mail article seen here.

Metropolis Magazine: Full House

Pedersen, Martin ed. "Full House." Metropolis May 2014: 98-101. Print.

“Towards a New Pro Forma: Making the case for a new urban prototype where multi-generational living is the natural buy-in.”  Metropolis Magazine invited us to envision a multi-generational home for this century. We responded by featuring the Grange Triple Double and showing how it can accommodate a flexible three- or four- generational living condition that can include rental units and accessible spaces for an ageing family member while folding in exterior green spaces and natural through ventilation.

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