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Designing for families in high-rises

The City of Toronto Planning Division is working on an initiative called, Growing Up: Planning for Children in New Vertical Communities

The objective is to better understand how new multi-unit housing can better accommodate families within the city. Supposedly as of 2011, 32% of families within Toronto lived in mid and high-rise buildings. At first I thought this number seemed high, but then I rationalized it to myself by thinking of all the post-war apartment buildings we built.

As part of their study, the city published a number of case studies from Toronto and from around the world. These are projects that have successfully planned for families. For some of the projects they have floor plan and sections showing how the individual suites were designed and positioned within the building. One feature that they consider desirable is to cluster the family suites on the lower floors of the building.

But perhaps even more interesting is the section called CondoHacks. Here, the study team interviewed 9 families already living in vertical communities to learn about how they have “hacked” their spaces to meets their needs. It’s valuable to see how end-users actually live in specific floor plans. Lots of shared bedrooms and spaces. Here (pictured below) is an example of 2 parents and 2 children living in a 650 square foot one 1 bedroom plus den.


This a topic that I’m personally very interested in. I’m thinking a lot about how some of the projects I’m working on could better accommodate families. So it’s great to see this initiative underway. If you’d like to receive email updates from the city about this study, sign up here on the bottom right of the page. I did that this morning.

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