Building Toronto: New apartments in Canada’s Queen City are on the rise
Canada’s Queen City is known for its real estate boom. As the most populous location in the country, Toronto is also one of the hippest luxury real estate markets in the world. The city is a center for art, business and media and lies on a sloping plateau with a unique canyon system. While it boasts incredible architecture and high-end designs, Toronto risks a housing overhaul. Rapid increases in home prices, overvaluation and overbuilding have all attributed the increasing situation to the city. In the midst of these unstable conditions and uncertainty, new residential projects continue to be built.
The following apartments show both sophisticated and simple floor plans and show contemporary living trends. These designs embody the living culture of Toronto and create spatial experiences through location planning, organization and form. The houses reinterpret modern building practices, combining multiple programs and varying degrees of privacy. Designed in response to existing landscapes and rare natural conditions, each house orients itself by the surrounding views while embracing urban structures and street landscapes. Just as the existing building stock mixes many different architectural styles, new living concepts mix materials, room typologies and diverse conceptual ideas.
Millgrove House is in rural Hamilton on property that included an abandoned apple orchard and hay farm for local use. Located between old tree lines and forests, the terrain is gently undulating. The design strategy was therefore to use the topography to get a humble appearance from the street while providing a spacious home for a middle-aged couple with four grown children.
The design, created for an Italian couple, pays homage to both the Italian heritage of the builders and that of the residential buildings in Toronto, while at the same time providing a feeling of well-being, mobility and comfort. The design of the Pacific project is based on the homeowners’ values and traditions where the comforts of their past are now felt in their lives today.
When a vacant couple made the decision to downsize, they knew they wanted to make it an easy-care, age-appropriate home as well as an architectural showcase. They had tried to live in a condo, but lacked the familiarity of a low-rise building. Their son, a builder, encouraged them to go beyond their traditional aesthetic and create a custom, modern home – something he could help them with.
This project was born out of the desire to transform the traditional city garage into a flexible lounge. This small structure imagines the free-standing garage in the alley (often an underutilized storage space) and turns it into a real extension of the house as well as an open event space to forge communal bonds. The ‘Garage Gem’ strikes a balance between valuable and useful to support a wide range of uses.
The Cedarvale Ravine House is a 3,350 square foot home for a family of four on the edge of the Toronto Cedarvale Ravine. The canyon system, the most distinctive feature of Toronto’s geography, consists of extraordinary arteries that flow through the city, providing unique access to the wilderness. This infill home is on a typical residential neighborhood street in the center of town but opens to protected woodland at the rear of the property.
The shape of the house is entirely based on the context. The curved front wall conveys the street facade by reacting contextually to the setbacks of the neighboring houses. This was designed for drama and served a rational purpose of making room for a basement apartment while maximizing the space on the second floor. The designers have made small decisions about how the eaves height is aligned to the right of the neighboring house. Simple pointers like this were made to help the otherwise unusual shape blend in with its neighbors over 100 years older.
Located in the middle of a large canyon system in a neighborhood in northern Toronto, this private residence not only takes advantage of the surrounding expansive natural views, but also creates a close relationship with its immediate surroundings. Designed to take into account the integration of life with nature, the exterior treatment of this house explores a carefully honed language of natural materials, while the gently curved front facade is carefully sculpted and the road is a solid unit.
The Double Duplex Infill project is located on Melbourne Avenue in the Parkdale neighborhood of Toronto, known for its centuries-old Victorian and Bay and Gable mansions. The existing double-width property was divided into two separate lots, with a four-story, 3,500-square-meter, detached maisonette residential building, each with two two-story units, being built on each plot. Double Duplex pays tribute to the existing context and beauty of its craft and local art by abstracting and reinterpreting the ubiquitous Bay and Gable typology and rethinking the two-story Brise Soleil.