Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

House on Craven Road in Toronto's east end rebuilt by architect Anya Moryoussef.

Doublespace Photography

Anya Moryoussef was aiming for the skies.

The young Toronto architect was hired to rebuild a little house, just one storey high and 17 feet wide – and yet, in terms of space and light, she chose to go big. “I am interested in this idea of an infinite architecture,” she said, as we sat in the living room she designed for the house off Danforth Avenue. “The space is not huge, but you have a connection to the sky, and it seems to go on forever.”

A big claim, and the space itself cashes the cheque. The living room, roughly 8 feet wide, has a sawtooth roof; on top of the regular ceiling is a long inverted-V lined with south-facing windows. Light tumbles in up there, and throws dappled shadows of branches onto the white walls. It’s a simple idea, constructed with ordinary building materials – but a beautiful idea that’s executed beautifully.

Story continues below advertisement

Indeed the whole house is architecture with a capital A. It shows Ms. Moryoussef, who formerly worked with the Toronto firm Superkul and with Sarah Wigglesworth in London, as a mature talent.

The lucky resident is Laurel Hutchison, a retired schoolteacher who had, she told me, no intention of becoming a patron of design. She settled in the mid-2000s here on Craven Road, an odd street with garages on one side and small houses on the other. Her house was “very modest,” she recalled, and after a while, a wall was falling apart. She hired a contractor, and he brought bad news: the structure had been damaged in a fire and essentially the whole building needed to be replaced. She hired Ms. Moryoussef to design a new structure and gave her wide latitude.

“Laurel was an incredible client: she had very few expectations, or requirements,” Ms. Moryoussef said. “She said, ‘I just want something modest. But I want an inspiring, light-filled home, and I want privacy.’”

The kitchen cabinets obstruct views into the house.

Doublespace Photography

The architect delivered exactly this by controlling the arrangement of windows. The front of the house faces west, and the front door is at the southwest corner. This is glass, but views into the house are mostly obstructed by the lavender painted cabinets of the kitchen. Light comes in; the eyes of passersby can’t reach in to the interior.

Then, past the sunny living room, is a small painting studio and the one bedroom. A porch runs along one side of the house, floored with Brazilian ipe wood. Nothing special – except that the porch has a ceiling; when you see it from inside, it reads like another room.

The experience of these elements is more complex than it sounds on paper; the building feels much larger than it actually is, both intuitive and spatially complex.

What could an architect of Ms. Moryoussef’s skill accomplish in public buildings? Soon Toronto will see. Her firm is renovating a park pavilion, as part of a revamp of the city’s L’Amoreaux Kidstown Water Park in Scarborough.

Story continues below advertisement

She’s a subcontractor to the landscape architecture firm PMA. Of course. A small firm like hers would not be seen as qualified for a public building in Toronto. Such a job would typically go to a larger design firm, who would then put junior staff on the job and crank out something speedy and mediocre. That sort of “procurement” process, which prizes experience, hurts talented designers of Ms. Moryoussef’s generation and deprives everyone else of quality design.

“And it’s ironic, because this house project is much more complicated than that one,” she told me. “In that case, the city is going to get a very ambitious building.”

Judging from this house, she can turn something small into something very grand.

Doublespace Photography

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies