Encomium

Toronto, Ontario

This mixed-use project contains both residential and commercial spaces—a gallery, offices and an apartment—and was the first of the firm’s infill projects, one in a wave of revitalization projects that have, over the years, dramatically transformed Toronto’s central core.

Long a single-family residence, this row house had over the years become enveloped by the city’s expanding entertainment district. The challenge in converting it into a mixed-use building was in overcoming the limitations of the long, narrow footprint typical of this era, with its dark and divided interiors. The design team achieved the primary goal of opening up all three floors of the house, removing superfluous interior walls to eradicate the claustrophobic feel, thereby allowing natural light to flood all spaces: the namesake gallery on the sunken ground floor, offices on the first floor, and a finely detailed apartment occupying the top floor.

Key design elements include sunken courts at the front and rear of the building that literally and visually extend the space of the gallery and the office, and which bookend the gallery with additional natural light. Polished concrete, white oak and white walls create a serene gallery environment of diffuse light, ideal for the display of art and artifacts. An elegant signage strategy is compelling in its luminescence; etched with the gallery’s name, a translucent block of acrylic finishes the top of the concrete balustrade. Lit from within, it announces the gallery’s presence day and night.

Interior Design consultants: UW Design Group

photo: Tom Arban