New Quarter

Zoning bylaws and site conditions were intrinsic to the design of this project. A double-fronted lot is sandwiched between a highly trafficked collector road and a residential street, with retail establishments to the north and a mix of 1950s bungalows and fourplex buildings to the south.

Units are stacked in pairs so that the two street-facing elevations equal each other in weight and treatment, and so that each street faade is given the same importance. In addition, it3 brought about a more urbane response to the collector road edge and did away with the more conventional back lane approach. Both the front and rear yards can be landscaped because of the inclusion of below grade parking, which did away with typical rear yard parking.

Like drawers slipped into a cabinet, units inhabit a simple box-like form, which opens at the ends where the elevation of each unit is detailed with an undulating wall of glass and wood panels. These modulate sun, wind and views for each unit. An exterior gallery is created with the wall treatment, resulting in a pattern of shadowed recesses on the faade.

The client’s preference for simplicity and contemporary forms and detailing inspired these exterior details. A long loft-like living space, stretching across the principal faade, is a central element surrounded by the units themselves. Service spaces such as kitchens and bathrooms are located in the middle of each floor plan, flanked by bedrooms. The parking garage creates a plinth upon which the units sit, and a horizontal datum above the plinth extends to become a series of walls enclosing the outdoor courtyard spaces for the lower units, which are connected via stairs to the gardens.

The atypical nature of this urban site allowed for architectural specificity in the project’s overall design. In the creation of a double-fronted building, a new site-specific typology emerges, one that is intended to encourage an innovative approach to comparable sites and existing planning bylaws. NM

Client: Gruter Developments

Architect team: David Down, Graham Livesey, Richard Davignon, Troy Smith

Structural: Grant Structural Engineering

Mechanical/Electrical: Rae McLean & Associates

Construction: Georgian Bay Remodelling/Gruter Developments

Area: 4,352 sq. ft.

Budget: $500,000

Completion: September 2001

Photography: Ray Van Ness, John Gaucher Images