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