Intersection of Light and Shadow – Camera Lucida by Anya Moryoussef Architect
Paying dutiful honour to its 150-year-old Victorian-era history, Camera Lucida comes together as both a restoration and reimagining of the past through a more contemporary openness. Anya Moryoussef Architect focuses on light and shadow, exploring how they interplay, funnel movement and flow across multiple levels.
Set within Toronto, Camera Lucida shines a proverbial – and literal – light on the restoration and reuse of a richly storied building. Originally designed and built within the Victorian era, the grand home needed a reworking – one that acknowledged and celebrated its 150-year history. Having lived in the residence for many years, the owners were ready for change and engaged Anya Moryoussef Architect to overlay a more refined and simplified aesthetic. In finding the right balance between that which already existed and the vision that the owners had for the home required an understanding of how to carry forward nods to the past while instilling a modern functionality. A close collaboration between the design and construction teams ensured that. With each layer that was revealed, the future of the building was considered holistically.
Key features such as the fireplaces and the stairs were retained and salvaged – in their place, contemporary iterations were designed and handmade. Continuing a connection to craft through the new works was key to the legacy of those who originally hand-built the home. Each new insertion aims to not compete with the more heavily detailed cornicing, skirtings and ceiling plaster details, instead they aim to calm the overall feeling of the spaces. Playing to the scale of the extended internal ceiling heights, a consistent light palette spreads across both vertical and horizontal surfaces and is emphasised by the timber floor.
Centrally located and open to the connecting rooms, the kitchen is given new purpose within the revised planning. The extended and oversized island bench runs the length of the space and is made to feel like a theatrical stage of sorts, with the singular overhead exhaust fan beaming down from above. Seven new apertures strategically placed throughout harness the incoming natural light and open views outward, ultimately dissolving the formal and rigid planning originally in place. Spaces that were previously void of light are then transformed into naturally lit volumes that respond to the changing seasons.
Intentionally blurring the lines between old and new, Camera Lucida opens up to accommodate natural light while retaining key reminders of the past. By directing activity outward and to the newly inserted volumes, Anya Moryoussef Architect redefines how the home is used and, ultimately, how it feels.