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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

NO MEAN CITY: Architecture at Harbourfront, and design week highlights

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Cross-posted from No Mean City, Alex’s personal blog on architecture

This week, as you may have heard, is design week in Toronto: the Interior Design Show (LA iconoclast Thom Mayne! Brigitte Shim! Douglas Coupland! Many famous designers and pretty things!), and excellent alternative design events: Come Up To My Room and Made At Home.

But I’m most interested in Neighbourhood Maverick, the new architecture show at Harbourfront Centre, which opens tonight, Jan. 28. It includes three first-rate firms: Drew Mandel Design, Studio Junction and Reigo & Bauer. The theme for these installations is the tension between contemporary house and the streetscapes of older neighbourhoods. See here.

Studio Junction has come up with a set of ideas for “mid-block” sites – like the laneway lot where they built an excellent house for themselves. (I wrote about that house here for Dwell.)

Drew Mandel’s office has drawn up a “typical residential Toronto streetscape” with five of their houses on it, highlighting their forms and “the interconnected spatial relationships that reach outside the boundaries of the building envelope and into the sites, the sky and to the landscapes beyond.” (I wrote about Mandel’s Ravine House here.)

And most intriguing: Reigo and Bauer have imagined “a fictional philanthropic, vigilante development endeavor” that drops in prefab modern houses to fill up empty lots in the city. I like the gist of the designs they’re proposing – assertively modernist houses with pitched roofs and a familiar scale. And frankly, I can’t wait to learn more about this project to better our streets.

I’ve been impressed by Reigo and Bauer’s design work, and it seems they’ve got a sense of humour, too! That’s something you won’t see much of at the big show this week.

The Harbourfront show continues until June. I’ll blog it again once I’ve seen it. But I will be at the opening tonight – hope to see you there.