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Armstrong Avenue Residence

Taylor Smyth Architects

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Taylor Smyth Architects, Taylor Smyth Architects

Project Name

Armstrong Avenue Residence

Project Status


Year Completed



2,200 sq. feet


Michael Taylor & James O’Connor

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Project Description

Originally constructed in 1912 as a dairy, the exterior of this laneway residence has remained basically untouched, allowing for the delightful experience that comes from the discovery of the contemporary light filled interior when compared with the raw, industrial exterior.

A previous owner had removed the roof of an auxiliary room to create an outdoor walled garden at one end of the living room. Over the past 15 years, a series of transformations by Taylor Smyth Architects have transformed the residence. The end wall of the living room has been completely removed to create a physical and visual flow out to the garden, with a large glass sliding door flanked by floor to ceiling windows. In order to blur the distinction between inside and outside, the new exterior Ipe wood deck extends inside the house from the walled garden, and then “folds” down to become steps into the living room. At the far end of the garden, it “folds” up to become a bench. Even at night, with the exterior brick walls illuminated, the garden feels like an extension of the living room.

In key locations, the gypsum board walls peel back to reveal the original brick walls behind, bookending the new blackened steel gas fireplace surround that cantilevers out from the kitchen into the living room.

Due to its ecological benefits as a sustainable, rapidly renewable product, as well as its aesthetics, carbonized bamboo has been used in a variety of forms. Solid bamboo flooring throughout the ground floor is complemented by the use of bamboo veneer on the kitchen island. This continuity creates a unity of material, as if the island has grown out of the floor. The island sits under a 4 foot x 8 foot skylight and is the symbolic centre of the house, a natural gathering spot for guests.

Most recently, the second floor was gutted to create an intimate yet dramatic bedroom and ensuite bathroom with a series of custom millwork fabrications of solid bamboo plywood, which is detailed to expose the multi-layered cross grains that make up the
finished panels.

The bed’s bamboo headboard and canopy are inlaid with thin strips of LED, and further highlighted through the use of concealed LED’s at the base and canopy to create an illusion of floating planes. The integrated bedside tables incorporate vertical planes of bamboo plywood, with the exposed grain inlaid flush with the horizontal top surface, a modern interpretation of parquetry.

Bamboo plywood in both ¾” and 1½” thicknesses was cut into slats of different widths to create a screen that separates the bedroom and bathroom. The cabinet doors of the bathroom millwork also incorporate the same bamboo plywood. Custom mirrors with backlit LED lighting are suspended from the ceiling. The textured porcelain rear wall of the generous walk-in shower is washed with LED light.
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