Bringing Light into a Historic Toronto Home

Bringing Light into a Historic Toronto Home

This project from Architect Terrell Wong tackles two great green measures right away: as a renovation, it transforms a historic building into a newly updated efficient building (the greenest building is the one already there), and it converted this single-family into a two-family (yay for higher density living). What you can’t help but notice is the stunning use of optimized daylight elements to complete these high performance homes.

By dividing an existing house down the middle to form a two-family structure, the opportunity presented itself to provide generous daylighting to the interior of each new unit. Terrell understood that a significant amount of skylight area would pose a challenge to the need for occupant comfort and energy efficiency. The solution, allowing for generous daylighting without compromising comfort and efficiency, was the PR60 glass roof system by Lamilux. Each unit has a skylight approximately 5’ (1.5m) wide x 27’ (8m) long, straddling the new dividing wall and slightly off-set. The contractor, Mark Nolan of Cildara Contracting Limited can boast being the first to install a PR-60 in Canada. Congratulations to all!

“The concept was to divide a large heritage home into 2 and allow each side the future opportunity to have secondary units. So at the end of the day there are potential living spaces for four separate groups of people. This flexibility allows for more density in ostensibly the same footprint. Urban homes tend to be close and have difficulty bringing light into the center of the building. By recessing the center section of both sides of the house we could introduce separate entrances for the basements while introducing windows to bring light in.

The idea for the skylight came from the desire to bring natural light vertically through the building. The skylight extends the peak of the original hip roof so that from the street it can not be seen. Each dwelling is only half the width from before and there were few opportunities for the 'OH! Factor'. The stairs were that opportunity. We decided that cantilevered stairs with glass railings would allow the most penetration of light and space into the home. The owners wanted to put in a huge skylight over the stairs to augment this element, as skylights can have a huge effect on the energy efficiency of the building. Until this point in my career, I had actively avoided them. My initial research took me to commercial skylights and brought in quotes from the US that were substantially larger and did not include an expert installer to oversee the construction. I was not impressed by the quality or the glazing options [on the market]. Triple glazing was not an option. Lamilux not only provided this expertise they provided shop drawings and feedback between the architect, builder and their designers. The system is broken down into smaller components that were pelleted so that it could be easily craned onto the roof and skilled crew could assemble it safely.

Crane day on the site was a spectacle and members of 475 came up just for the event. Not everything goes perfectly on a site, but how the company deals with issues really speaks to their professionalism. German roofs are built differently than typical Canadian roofs. Although we worked through the fact that it was not going to be a tile roof, there was a bit too much space assumed than is typical. There were some flashing details that appeared on site during installation. They dealt with the issue on site and even came back with new flashing to make sure there was a permanent, custom solution to the problem. I sometimes don’t get that service from local companies.”

Photo Credit:Riley Snelling

Learn more about Terrell Wong and her practice at and see more of what Lamilux has to offer at our adjoining site:

Reading next

Designing With Daylight to Brighten a Photographer’s Studio
BIM Objects Available for LAMILUX