Student Award of Excellence: Residing in Spaces of Passage

Toronto, Ontario

Stephen Bauer, University of Toronto

This residential project proposes a complex response to an urban site in Toronto that the designer calls “a residual space created by two continuous, linear crossing systems, the east/west oriented King and Queen Streets bridging over the Don Ravine below.” The project’s theoretical concerns are focused on the potentially porous quality of the long-established boundary between public and private. The choice of site–“a space ambiguously held between, while potentially linking, conditions of terra firma and bridge”–is specifically chosen for the play in topographic levels which are likely to instigate a variety of experiences for dwellers in the area. Queen Street is elevated slightly from the King Street level and the streets are linked by a pedestrian walkway.

The residential complex has access to a plaza recessed below street level, which can be viewed from the first residential floor. Various modes of access are clustered together: a streetcar stop with a viewing platform, a bicycle storage and ramp leading to the river’s edge, and a pedestrian link between King and Queen streets.

A solution to the issue of minimal public accessibility and use of public areas in urban centres is to create two residential entries that afford both a retreat for internal speculation (the north entrance is set well back from the street) and entry to a field of wider visibility (the southern King Street entrance is directly on the street, and provides access to public paths near a sloping plaza). The facility’s complex relationship to the site allows it to be read as both passage and residence.

Caruso: In contrast to the other student award, this project is rather too conversant with contemporary discourse and relies, albeit with considerable sophistication, on a received contemporary architectural language. The site is interesting for its paradigmatic urban messiness, and the section of this project manages to accommodate the abrupt scale of transport infrastructures within a matrix of everyday spaces.

The material submitted for the project was over-edited so that it was difficult to understand the basis on which formal decisions were being made. The exterior appearance of the project, which was very disappointing, just suddenly appeared with no explanation.

Kapusta: This exploration of alternative manifestations of the public realm is most rewarding in the section that negotiates between two arterial roads on different levels, and the raw, powerful collage that posits a condensed convergence of architecture, infrastructure and public space.

Saia: I really like this subject, a very real concern to not leave the city full of the holes created by residual spaces. “Residing” in “spaces of passage” would seem to be a contradiction. How does one create anchor points in that which is nothing but fluid? This constitutes both the program and the challenge. The student who engages this challenge proposes a contemporary solution to a contemporary problem. He does not let himself be discouraged by the irregular configuration of the site, nor by the novel character of the problem. On the contrary, he organizes his plans well and sculpts his volumes skilfully. The passages that link the private with the public animate the places that nevertheless remain well-differentiated.

Thesis Advisors: Barry Sampson, Andy Payne