The Fascinating Tale of Toronto’s Cube House

If you ever drove past the entrance/exit of Toronto's Don Valley Parkway expressway via Adelaide Street East, you cannot help but be flummoxed by the mystifying architectural marvel that lies on the corner of Sumach Street and Eastern Avenue. 

Deemed as the ‘weirdest' address in Toronto by BlogTO, 1 Sumach Street has been home to one of Canada’s most enchanting landmarks for more than two decades: a three-story modular, tilted, green cube home, notably known as the Cube House.



Photo courtesy of BlogTO


At first sight, this cluster of cubes, snuggled within the confluence of traffic, can be interpreted as a beautiful art composition but upon a closer look, one would notice that the unusual structure, to say the least, is a part house and part advertising billboard.



Photo courtesy of BlogTO


Built-in 1996 by Ottawa designer architect Ben Kutner and his partner Jeff Brown, the iconic three giant green cubes, perched on an access column was inspired by Piet Blom's 1970s complex of Cubic Houses in the Dutch city of Rotterdam. 

Initially, the designers were optimistic that the concept will grow into a larger set of equally spectacular homes called UniTri, like the prototype in Rotterdam, but the trend did not catch on in Canada and 20 years later, it remains the only Cube House in the country.



Photo courtesy of Flickr


According to The Cube House's long-term tenant Martin Trainor, a CBC television producer and photographer, one unexpected feature that seems to surprise visitors is the ample space that the design offers. 

In an interview with CBC, Trainor said: “Everybody should live in a cube house - it’s fun, functional and has a lot of stairs for exercises.”

With high ceilings and exceptional floor space, the 42x42 square feet living quarters are subdivided into multiple floors, with the lowest section acting as a small landing area. 

The sleeping space is technically a loft as it is in an A-frame cabin, and despite only a few windows, the room is full of natural light and greenery. 



Photo courtesy of BlogTO


The cubes, which sit on 8,700 square feet of land, are attached at the corners which form the roof of the house, and each cube can even be dismantled to be independent of each other for mobility purposes. 

With such intricate blueprints, it is no surprise that the construction came with its fair share of controversy, from the ownership to its uncertain future of the building.

Here are some interesting facts about the Cube House:

- It took architect Ben Kutner 10 years to get permission from the city to get the plans approved.

- The ownership of the property became a legal battle for over a year because the cubes were built on land that was not owned by the architect. As a result, the cubes were deemed the property of the landowner.

- Eventually, in the early 2000s, the land and structure were sold to Coffee Time founder Tom Michalopoulos, for $265 000, who utilized the cubes as billboards for his coffee business. This was until CBC news producer Martin Trainor began renting the space in around 2002 and is currently residing 20 years later. 



Photo courtesy of BlogTO


The surrounding community boasts the Pan Am Games Athletes Village, including the densification that came with the creation of the Canary District, which is now a mixed-use community with retail condominiums and George Brown College's first student residence. 

In May 2016, the property was purchased by commercial real estate expert Taso Boussoulas and real estate developer Jeff Craig for $ 2,750,000.

There have been many speculations over the future of the building. Some reports say that the units will either be auctioned or donated to the city for relocation to a city site, while others believe they'll be demolished. Either way the site will be redeveloped.

“Plans are still in progress as to the details of the repurposing. Nothing has been confirmed yet,” said Boussoulas to Houseporn.



Photo courtesy of Daily Hive


Although the future of the construction remains unknown, the Cube House certainly is a good topic of conversation for those stuck in traffic on the Don Valley Parkway. Stay tuned for a future follow-up post as we unravel the destiny of this fascinating architecture.


For more exciting post like this one, make sure to check out our additional posts on

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VERUSCHKA MUNGROO comes from an exciting journalism background. She has travelled extensively and visited London, India, Portugal, Spain, and Bali where she wrote about architecture and design, subjects she truly loves.

Posted In: Ontario

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