Live/Work Art Studio In Toronto, Ontario

As many can attest, working and living in the same place can be difficult, but with the right design and space plan the final result can offer sufficient flexibility to meet one's needs.

Kent Monkman, a renowned Canadian artist who calls Toronto home, looked to Anthony Provenzano and Jason Halter to convert his 3300 square foot factory space into a live / work studio.


Photograph courtesy of Matt Williams and Dwell

Mr. Monkman purchased an industrial space on a street with an eclectic collection of buildings, ranging from working class Victorian dwellings to a chocolate factory and a car part plant. What was initially planned to be a cosmetic makeover developed into a much more intensive redesign, as the design team collaborated on a space that would work as a live and work studio for Monkman. 

Monkman wanted a flexible space that could shift from a studio to a residence depending on what was required of it. This required the creation of a space plan with finishes that remained conscious of the duality of the use.  Halter and Provenzano did just that, blending modern and industrial into one cohesive environment.

The design had to carefully manage the interplay between living and working. Although the original purpose was to serve principally as a studio; the utilitarian usefulness could not be lost when serving as the comfort of 'home'. Simple solutions, like creating an enclosed utility, storage and laundry area under the mezzanine, allowed the building to serve both these purposes.


Photograph courtesy of Matt Williams and Dwell


The retrofit helped to create and define the public and private spaces. With the addition of three skylights, and a new commercial door and window system, this newly reinvented space boasts an abundance of natural light. Especially with the white walls and polished concrete floor. Although this once gritty building retains its industrial roots (evidenced by the original joists and crossbeams visible under fresh coats of white paint), it now has an air of relaxed domesticity.



Photograph courtesy of Matt Williams and Dwell

Meeting the needs of an art studio were critical to its success, where even the simplest ideas made a significant difference. For example, there is plywood behind much of the drywall, allowing Monkman to hang his art wherever he pleases, turning it into an instant art gallery. There are spaces hidden behind showcases which store large pieces, and even the rafters are beneficial for storage. Douglas fir plywood was used to make shelving underneath the stairs, utilizing the opportunity to make use of every space, while the wood’s texture adds depth to the design and gives an element of warmth to this sleek, modern structure.


Photograph courtesy of Matt Williams and Dwell


This building is topped, both literally and figuratively, by a green roof. Accessible through the bedroom, it serves as a contemplative escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. Halter added a patio amongst the low maintenance plants to create a secluded space above everything, allowing Monkman to enjoy the expanse of the sky and the tree top sight lines. To read more about Green Roofs click here.


Photograph courtesy of Matt Williams and Dwell


The renovation of this building resulted in a tailor-made space ideal for Monkman’s unique needs. It demonstrates that with a clever design and flexible space plan, any building can be modified to suit your lifestyle.

Want to learn more about the design team? The designer, Jason Halter - and his firm Wonder Inc - specializes in both architectural and graphic design. And Anthony Provenzano, a Toronto based architect, leads Anthony Provenzano Architect, which is a firm sensitive to building sustainability issues.

This article - and photos- was sourced from Dwell Magazine,  dated from November 2010. 

Researched and Written by Sarah Coates, Masters Student of History, University of Toronto

Posted In: Ontario

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