Name: Garden Rowhouse
Location: Toronto, Canada
Project Area: 12,000 sqft
Project Year: 2018
This two-storey retrofitted warehouse is uniquely nested in the centre of a Toronto block, surrounded by Bloor storefronts to the south, and otherwise residential character all around. The site’s landlocked nature provides the opportunity to open views up to the rooftop. This office hub, a home-base for remote workers, is therefore defined by the addition of a 4,000 sf all seasons rooftop terrace. The presence of the rooftop garden is perceived through every moment of the project.
Visitors enter at the antechamber. Here, a blank barrel vault and a continuous concrete surface pulls you in and frames a view of the central atrium. Visitors can begin to see hints of the gardens cascading down from above. The liminal nature of the space is emphasized by a restraint of materials, which contrasts the richness of the building’s interior palette and gardens.
Anchoring the main atrium space is the reception area and coffee bar. This circular bar is made of layered concrete, growing out of the ground like a monolith. Adjacent the main bar is garden seating and a harvest table. A commercial grade kitchen and a library both in a warm wooden palette act as bookends to the central space. One wall features a mural by Rodrigo Corral, the designer of the office’s graphic identity. The overall material concept is concrete surfaces pulling up from the ground, and wood pulling down from the ceiling, with gardens in-between.
Above the central space is a 350 sf lightwell which connects to the third-floor roof garden. Its wooden screen is in the pattern of brick coursing, which pulls from the brick floor of the garden terrace. The wooden screen scoops down as a ceiling, hiding all the infrastructure above. In section, the roof garden folds down into the lightwell. Where one side of the fold is vegetation, and the other side is clad with mirrors to form a periscope. This ensures views of the sky and nature are present at all points throughout the building.
The program of the second floor is yoga and fitness rooms, and conference rooms that can transform into overnight hotel suites. The central meeting room continues the material palette of the lightwell, with three walls wrapped in the same textured wooden screen. Its third wall is a window into the lightwell, with a view directly framing the hanging gardens.
The third floor is the addition to the existing warehouse. It provides a 2000 sf enclosed flexible dining and meeting space that is useable year-round. In the summer, the sliding glass doors completely open to an additional 2000 sf of rooftop terrace, shaded with trees and a lattice structure.
This space is designed to feel like a collective home for the employees, not just an office. In addition to the program of an office, it is a place to socialize, cook, exercise, read and eat. Every aspect of the project works to encourage a healthy lifestyle and a connection to nature in an urban context.