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Red stripes, iceberg homes, and laneway houses

This morning I was reading a CityLab article talking about a homeowner in London’s wealthy Kensington neighborhood who painted her house in red stripes after the city and her neighbors derailed her renovation plans. I’m thinking it is supposed to be symbolic of government “red tape.”

She had hoped to add a two-floor “mega-basement” to her home, which is curiously enough a thing in London due to how restrictive traditional home expansions can be. Locally they are called “iceberg homes.”

What’s interesting about this phenomenon is that it shows you how far people will go to find and/or create the space they want in the neighborhoods they want to live in. Kensington is an incredibly wealthy area and so one has to assume that she is not without other housing options.

As another example, here’s how the article describes her house:

The candy-striped home in question, for example, is actually a mews house, a kind of outbuilding running along an alley behind a great house, originally intended as a place to tidy horses, carriages and maids away from the main residence.

So not only did she want to create an “iceberg home”, but she wanted to do so in what was previously a back alley. In Toronto, this home would be called a laneway house.

What this tells me is that as real estate values rise, people will naturally start to seek out overlooked spaces to repurpose. They will look for some way to carve out a home. And it’s for that reason that I think laneway housing is an inevitable outcome here in Toronto.

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