JURY COMMENTS: A flexible, multi-unit, multi-generational home that provides proof of concept for a new approach to urban intensification. The strategic approach to site planning, building massing, and programmatic flexibility simultaneously addresses the quantitative requirement for increased density, and the qualitative requirement to maintain the physical, social and cultural continuity of the neighbourhood. Passive and active design strategies combine to achieve a high standard of building performance.
A corner lot in Toronto’s Chinatown is the site for this multi-unit and multi-generational housing prototype. The project began with the blending of two households into one. A professional couple with a young son sells their small one-bedroom condominium; and their parents downsize after becoming empty nesters. Together, they construct a scenario for living that allows for autonomy while mutually benefitting from proximity.
Research into the unit types allowed by the City of Toronto provided the raw material for the spatial organization of the project. A second suite, plus duplex, plus bed-sitting room gives the project the right mix of unit types to make it both economically feasible and allowable under the zoning by-law.
Increasing density on the site while at the same time increasing the useable green space was a critical aspect of this project. The extended family shares a ground floor courtyard where the cooking and living spaces spill out onto the deck. Each family member also has a large private terrace above grade while the rental apartment has a front yard enclosed by a dense hedge.
A visual pro-forma was used to project future living scenarios and confirm financial viability: the children move into a rental unit as they gain independence, the parents move into the ground floor apartment while the kids are in university and rent out the main house to another family, then the family comes together again as the couple becomes grandparents. Discreet millwork components can be removed to connect the units and allow ageing grandparents to live on the ground floor in a small apartment that is connected to the shared family spaces.
Rising towards the corner of the lot, the stepped section reaches the maximum height of 12m permitted by the zoning, and culminates in a double-height space with an operable skylight that promotes strong displacement ventilation.
Owner/Developer Name withheld
Architect Williamson Chong
Structural Engineer Blackwell
Construction Manager Derek Nicholson Inc.
Millwork BL Woodworking
Windows Torp Inc.
Drawings and Diagrams Williamson Chong
Photos Bob Gundu