The owners, one of whom is a design professional, wanted to get maximum elegance. ‘We’re very interested in the work of Japanese architects,’ says one. In the Japanese metropolis, especially Tokyo, stratospheric real estate prices have created a genre of houses that squeeze into cramped, often irregular sites. The Gradient House’s lot may be the most Tokyo-like site in Toronto. It’s an L-shaped property – the front yard extends into a path in front of the neighbours’ house – and it is surrounded on all four sides by buildings.