Home_Office / superkül inc

Architects: superkül inc
Location: Toronto, Ontario,
Principals: Andre D’Elia and Meg Graham
General Contractor: Keystone Construction with Andre D’Elia and Meg Graham
Structural Engineer: Robert E. Brown Associates
Mechanical Engineer: Keynon Mechanical Design Inc
Constructed Area: 260 sqm
Year: 2006
Photographs: Ben Rahn / A-Frame Inc

Home / Office is a live-work building at the triangular intersection of Roncesvalles and Dundas Street West, in a modest strip of mixed-use buildings that edge High Park and Parkdale. Originally a two storey building with a shop on the ground fl oor and an apartment above, it had in the recent past been used solely as a residence. Its conversion to Home / Office involved its wholesale renovation and the addition of a third fl oor to create a studio for the owners’ architectural practice on the ground and basement fl oors and their apartment on the second and third fl oors.

Because of its mixed-use program, the tight project budget and existing zoning regulations, the only place for the project was a main street. This main street location works well with the City’s new Offi cial Plan, which sees these streets in coming decades absorbing the city’s projected increase in retail, offi ce and service employment, as well as much of its new housing. The density and height of buildings along these streets are much as they were a hundred years ago; for reasons of social, economic and environmental sustainability, and considering shifting live-work patterns, they are now especially ripe for revitalization and intensifi cation. And so the project is an exercise in the type of infi ll the City aims to encourage.

The massing and height of the building take their cues from adjacent fabric, as do window proportions and window heights; the materials of the project evoke those of both its commercial and residential neighbours, tying it into the streescape.

The building is currently divided almost equally between home and offi ce space but is designed to be adaptable; with small changes to the circulation and the partitioning, Home / Offi ce is easily converted to a different proportion of uses and units. The conscious decision to design the building in this way better ensures a fl exibility of use and occupation over the long-term, and so its vitality as a piece of Toronto’s urban fabric.

Cite: "Home_Office / superkül inc" 23 May 2009. ArchDaily. Accessed 20 Apr 2014. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=22909>

26 comments

  1. Thumb up Thumb down +1

    I think I saw this when I was in Toronto last year. It would be my dream workspace! Very nice, and a good affordable beginning for any new small firm.

    that is all.

  2. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    As a home office it really is superkul. As an addition to this specific streetscape it is a disaster. Don’t you guys in Toronto have conservation guidelines for the older city quarters? If not… there is a profession called “conservation architect”… sometimes it is beneficial to consult a guy like that…

  3. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    @Reger
    The plan notes that the room past the kitchen is a study, not a bedroom.

    @Bo Lucky
    conservation architects are BOOOORRRRING

  4. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    What exactly was worth preserving here? It seems like they replaced a run of the mill two story building.

    Its a nice project.

  5. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Bo…it looks to me like the street is still there. Maybe there isn’t a storefront that is open but in the description it mentioned that the previous building was used a single residence so it wasn’t an active street facade. They did an fine job relating to the scale of the neighborhood. Why should all offices have to be removed from engaging the street? Where should they go? All offices should move to high rises or above retail stores?

    Have you ever been to Toronto? Many historic or older neighborhoods have plenty of buildings that aren’t worth preserving and injecting a contemporary design into a historic context can be quite captivating.

  6. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    @Lucas Grey
    I was referring neither to the building which was replaced nor to a new building function (which is fine). It’s the elevation that I have a problem with. It is designed with no regards for the neighbourhood. Only height (which is likely result of municipal height restrictions) “connects” this building to its setting. The rest “stands out” ruining the climate of this place.
    I was in Toronto couple of times, but this has no relevance to the subject we are discussing. I have nothing against modern design as long as it respects the place it is proposed for.

  7. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    I noticed that about Toronto. They have mastered making exquisite contemporary spaces out of old structures. I visited an old brewery that was converted into a tasteful artist district without ever destroying the preexisting context of the old buildings. As a matter of fact, I could tell that the city really took pride in the methods to reuse and recycle, whether it was trash or architecture….or for some you….the same thing. Ha

    that is all.

  8. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    This might be a strange thing for a born+raised Vancouverite, but I really want to move to T.Dot.

  9. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    @Bo Lucky: I think it’s a great addition to that streetscape, which is a combination of 2 and 3 story buildings if I remember correctly – the height is about the same as the building over to the right, isn’t it? Toronto is doing a much better job of being adventurous – and not in a sloppy way – than we are in Vancouver, where nothing is allowed – the city planners are “heritage” oriented and, while consulting with conservation architects, consistently allow developers to build poor mimicry of older buildings, like a low-rent museum of a time that in fact never existed. This seems much more vibrant than that.

  10. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    @Lindsey
    Grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. Vancouver is doing great – no wonder it’s one of the nicest cities in Canada. Toronto too. Evaluation (or for that matter construction too) of a building according to a personal taste leads nowhere as… each of us have a different taste. I don’t know whether the Home Office elevation meets municipal standards or not and I will not speculate. I may however mention that I saw intelligently constructed infills that blends nicely between existing structures (no matter if heritage or not) augmenting visual quality of the entire street without shouting “here I am, look at me”. And by the way… I am almost sure that if the architect was not restricted, the building would likely be much higher…

  11. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Conservation?what is there to conserve? 1950′s ugly non-architecture? let’s bring in the new ! Good work guys..

  12. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Am I missing something?? This facade seems pretty humble compared to the glowing neon storefronts adjacent. It would be nice if the neighboring buildings would clean their facades of signage so that the “historical” architecture could be read, then maybe you would have an argument that this design is out of place, but I dont see any architectural quality worth recognizing here. This doesn’t look like a historical district, what is worth conserving?

  13. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Some posts in this discussion clearly indicate that there is an urgent need for a conservation architect in architectural teams engaged within historic quarters, especially those neglected and still waiting for a sensitive restoration, renovation or upgrade. It is frightning to read such comments from architects(?)…

  14. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Bo, I’m from Toronto and know where this project is. There is nothing “historic” about the structures around it.

  15. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    There is a superabundance of buildings like these in Toronto. But more importantly, Bo, your panorama shows the building superkule re-faced – and its profile is nearly identical to the original.

  16. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Bo – that photo was taken in the Fall of 2006, when the street was made up to look like 1962 Baltimore for the remake of the movie Hairspray, with John Travolta and Zac Efron. All of the building signage, window signage, and the facade of Home/Office were part of a larger stage set.

  17. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Thank you Meg, you made my day!
    So, the film makers recognized historic character of the street and “restored” it temporarily to the film needs and our architects are distructed by the ugly signs (or may be blinded with egos?). Not being able to see values behind the signage they harmonized the building with it? Great!!!

  18. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Not quite Bo – the buildings to the left of Home/Office were built in the 80s, and the signage from the movie was made up; the re-facade of Home/Office for example was very faithful reproduction of a building in Eerie, Pennsylvania – had nothing to do with Toronto. You should take a look at what’s really here sometime, Bo. Not much to write home about, and much of it in poor condition; that’s why it lent itself to being remade as as stage set – in many ways it is a blank canvas. Except for Home/Office of course.

  19. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Meg,
    My comments are based on what I see and read here plus what’s available on the web. I guess these buildings are not designated or, if evaluated(?), they are designated “not heritage”. Is that so? I have no problem with the building layout. I think it is very well designed and I would like to have a home/office like that myself. However I am wondering what inspired an architect to design this elevation? May this be the old facade with a new cladding? Why these materials? The pictures show the Home/Office placed between two red brick(?) buildings. The rest of the street appears to have similar color scheme. Has architect considered an issue of a harmony with the neighbors or search inspiration somewhere else? I do not now all constrains of the project so my judgment may be not entirely accurate, but I hope you understand where I am coming from?

  20. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    @ Gregg and Reger

    If you open the first floor plan, you’ll notice a key. Number 7 on the second floor is indeed a study. The bedrooms are currently on the third floor, though the article states that it could change. It helps to actually look at the drawings.

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