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What might Toronto learn from this infill rental project in Tokyo

This is a lovely little infill rental project in Tokyo by ETHNOS (architect) for Real Partners (developer):

The building is 4 storeys plus a rooftop terrace. From the plans, it looks like there are 8 units, all of which are two-storey suites.

The A and B suites are accessible from the ground floor. For the A suites, you enter at grade, and then go down into the first basement level. And for the B suites, you enter at grade and then go up to your second level. One of the entrances (suite B-3) is via an exterior walkway.

The middle of the ground floor is the lobby entrance and there’s a single elevator that services the second and third floors (it then drops off for the fourth floor). On the second level is a co-working space, and so the upper C suites (these sound fancy) are all accessible from the third floor.

The fourth floor and fifth floor terraces are all accessible from within the C suites, which means that the only real common area corridors in this building are on the third level. And it looks like they wanted this particular corridor to have a view to the street, because they could have easily reduced it even further to increase the building’s overall efficiency.

What is also interesting to look at this building’s dimensions. Based on the above section, the floor-to-floor heights are 2500mm, which is low compared to the 2950/3000mm that is typically used here in Toronto for new reinforced concrete builds.

In terms of the overall building, it is only about 10m deep and it is less than 10m tall if you exclude the stair popups on the rooftop terraces. For context here, our Junction House lot is about 30m deep and the build is about 30m tall, so actually a similar kind of box proportion.

But let’s scan more of Toronto.

If you move away from designated “Avenues” (which is where Junction House sits) and look at some of our other major streets (which is something the City of Toronto is in fact doing), you can sometimes/oftentimes find even deeper lots.

Below is a random area that I quickly panned too on Dufferin Street — these single-family house lots are around 36m deep:

Now obviously Toronto is not Tokyo and Tokyo is not Toronto. But my point with all of this was to demonstrate just how much space we actually have within our existing boundaries, should we ever feel the need to increase our overall housing supply.

As I have argued many times before, I think one of the greatest opportunities to quickly do this sits along our majors streets.

Architectural drawings: ETHNOS

1 Comment so far

  1. I believe the hydro corridors in the GTA are another source of land for development by burying the cables and removing the towers. It will take technological change i.e. local power generation and a push from creative developers prior to that land becoming available. This will be how we eventually retire the “Hydro Debt”.


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