Regent Park’s Block 22

Masonry Textiles Create New Strands of Urban Space

Woonerf is a Dutch word for living street. These mews like spaces are notable for their equal prioritization of cars, bikes, and people. Regent Park Block 22 is an affordable rental housing project designed specifically for families. A mid-rise building and two sets of back-to-back townhouses are anchored by the woonerf and create a shared common space for summer and winter street life.

The Toronto Community Housing Corporation set out strict requirements for budget and time, so the winning solution embraced these constraints by limiting trades to mainly masons and materials to mainly brick. The approach allowed a clear focus for great masons using simple tools to build a project whose richness lies in its texture and patterning rather than a range of materials and tools. The result is a project that utilizes an essay on masonry — brick used in three different ways – to achieve unexpected richness.

Our partners were not immediately taken with this project. At first, they told us they wanted to love the building, but just couldn’t. Something about it just wasn’t very Toronto. Years later, over lunch: ‘I can now officially say that I actually really love the building.’ Like some of the best things in life, appreciation is sometimes acquired with time.

The mid-rise building is conceived as a simple volume wrapped in a pleated masonry “textile” to represent the individual family units within. The townhomes are conceived as one of two types depending on their orientation: a street-facing type with individual faces oriented to the City or a mews-facing type with playful, varied facades facing the woonerf. The project is a study in maximalist expression and utility within minimal means, technique, and typology.

“Its architecture is conceived much like a woven textile whose loose perimeter threads extend to a more translucent skin edge, which allows the building to act at once as a kind layered interface between the intimate, family spaces of the interior and inner block, and the open, collective spaces of the street, of the neighborhood, and of the city.” Architizer

Project Facts

  • Client

    Toronto Community Housing Corporation
    The Daniels Corporation

  • Location

    Regent Park, Toronto, Ontario

  • Size

    99,500 sq.ft. Midrise, 15 825 sq.ft. Townhomes

  • Status


  • Sub-Consultant Team

    Structural — Jablonsky, Ast & Partners

    Mechnical & Electrical — Trace Engineering

    Code — Leber Rubes

    Site Servicing — Fabian Papa and Partners

    Geotechnical — Coffey Geotechnics

    Shoring — Terraprobe

    Acoustic — Valcoustics

    Sustainability — EXP

    Energy — Buchan, Lawton, Parent

  • Photography

    Richard Johnson