The Double Duplex, designed by Batay-Csorba Architects, seeks to promote beauty and character within Toronto’s historic location of Parkdale. As such, one might ask how can a contemporary townhouse fit within a traditional Victorian neighbourhood?
Although the geometric design is unlike the majority of the already developed houses, the structures display concepts of Romanticism through the interplay of materiality and light. The 6,800 square foot project includes two semi-detached townhouses which allow for various multi-functioning spaces 1.
The layout of the townhouse is divided into two units, each consisting of two storeys. There is a great amount of flow of natural light due to the large windows and the variations of heights across the unit. The exterior courtyards, which are found on both ends of the building, are enclosed by colourful murals painted by local artists.
The most noticeable feature, however, is found on the upper level which displays a wooden brise-soleil screen. This installation provides a fair amount of light, while also eliminates excessive levels of heat and creates privacy within the interior spaces.
According to the architects, the abstracted patterns appear differently depending on the time of day as the sunlight manipulates the various depths and angles of wooden pieces, creating different shadows along the structure 2. Although the screen is rather captivating from the exterior, the interior is also rather enticing, as the walls and floors become covered with abstracted geometric patterns.
During the night, the beauty of the installment is more prominent from the outside, as the entire building appears to be lit up like a lantern3. How remarkable it is to experience a dynamic structure solely controlled by light! The connection between space, materiality and nature is present throughout the entire building.
Although structurally the townhouses are different from the more traditional houses in the Parkdale neighbourhood, their intricate design encourages the same type of sentiment through the artistically crafted installments while mirroring a similar scale and proportion. As much as the Victorian houses showcase Romanticism through common arches and pointed roofs, the townhouses also strive to promote a similar connection to Romanticism through poetic and artistic concepts produced by the wooden screens. According to the firm, the angled cut-outs in the installments create shapes in the light which could be compared to the organic images formed by clouds. During the Romantic period, artists were fascinated by clouds as they provided a perception of volume and visibility without space4. This sleek and modern townhouse includes simplistic designs in which the innovative arrangements of wood, steel and granite interconnect and speak on a more artistic level and contribute to the Romantic culture of the neighbourhood. Although Batay-Csorba Architects’ unique design provides a non-traditional approach to Romanticism, it has become a rather fitting and alluring addition to the community.
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All photos courtesy of: Batay-Csorba Architects
Researched and written by Karolina Pisanko, Undergraduate Student of Architecture at the University of Toronto