Design Proposal: Multipurpose Building in Toronto

The task: For an architecture studio class, students developed a design proposal for an actual site in Toronto. The task was to design a multipurpose building which integrated a private student residence with a public marketplace.

The site: Located near Bloor Street West and Bathurst Street in Toronto, the existing site is an old parking lot (2007).

Our entire studio class was assigned the site, which gave us the opportunity to conduct site analysis and understand the dynamics of the neighborhood. A crucial component of designing buildings is understanding the environment in which the building is to reside. A scaled site model was constructed (1:250). Images of site the model are featured below.

Conceptual Framework: Density Stratification

A notable observation about the site is that each of the 4 streets that border it has a different level of traffic (in terms of both people and vehicles). This factor defined the entire project as I chose the concept of density stratification to develop my proposed design of the building.

Below is the conceptual model that I used to further investigate the viability of density stratification as a means of design. Each wooden element is mobile on the plastic rod allowing for a change in mass within a specific volume i.e. changing the density at various levels. The model is a scaled replica of the site area.

The concept model was conceived as a grid occupying a volume in which small blocks, representing mass, could be manipulated. The grid provided a controlled environment to investigate density. In nature, varying densities are stratified within the environment forming distinct layers. The heaviest of these would sink, whereas the lightest would rise, forming a distinct levels.












The vertical displacement of strata or levels is defined as a function of 2 variables: Accessibility and Program.

  1. The creation of a linearly stratified environment induced by the varied inflow of people along the principal axes.
  2. The separation of program through the variation in accessibility forms a layered density structure.

Structural Model (1:100)

Main design feature: cantilevered components based on program density. A prominent feature is a 20 m cantilever over a public square.








The design had to meet zoning regulations as well as minimum allocated requirements for mechanical systems. Some of the program requirements are listed below. Minimum dimensions were provided in each case.

Marketplace (Public Space):
-Parking and Loading Area for the Market
-Service elevators
-Administrative Office space

Student residence (Private Space):
-Minimum area required for single and double rooms ( with appropriate washing facilities)
-Common rooms, kitchenette, laundry facilities
-Elevators, stairs

*Sections, plans and elevations as well as further details of the project are not uploaded.

Through employing the idea of density stratification within the project, an unusual layered market structure is created instead of the typical flat level market. Similarly, this is present within the student residence with floors that cantilever in the directions of the four principal axes around a central core.

The ‘lightness’ of the structure near the top is emphasized by having a glass curtain wall. This exposes the structural trusses. The triangular shape of the trusses is reflected in the pitched roofs of the surrounding neighbourhood. In contrast, the materials used at the base of the building are concrete and brick. This provides a ‘heavy’ base to support the building. There is potential within this project to develop the roof planes of the building as a habitable space.

The building provides a comprehensive design solution to two different programs through the development of the conceptual framework of density stratification. Within this architectural project, site and structural system are also addressed and incorporated into the design.

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