The other day we were admiring the renderings of Howard Park by Triumph Developments and thinking to ourselves “wow, those folks over at RAW Design sure know how to grab your attention.”

The architecture is amazing and the opportunity for green space on the roof and terraces is a wonderful flourish. As we were gazing at the renderings, we thought it’d be great to know more about how this project was shaped on the architectural side.

So why not go straight to the source? We went by the RAW Design office for a chat with Roland Rom Colthoff, the architect who led the design of Howard Park. As you would expect, he had a lot of intereesting insight as to how this design came to fruition.

Read on for a little Q and A with Roland and learn all you need to know about this architectural marvel…


BuzzBuzzHome: What was the inspiration behind this design?
Roland Rom Colthoff:

We started with the building that our client, Triumph Developments, had already done at 25 Ritchie which is quite a lovely building. It’s all single loaded around the courtyard. We thought that was a great model and we kept trying to extend the single loaded model across the whole site. The geometry of the site was so difficult that that eventually became impossible.We’ve always had this idea in the back of our head about outdoor space and living inside the city and how to try and combine the two. The city always has this issue about family housing downtown and how to keep people moving downtown. It’s a financial issue but also a perceptual issue about having outdoor space available to units downtown.

There’s a building in Denmark that we particularly like called Mountain by Big Architects. It had all these terraced units coming down. It’s about the same height as Howard Park. It’s quite different because it’s on a suburban lot and there’s lots of room around. They terraced up the parking to create an artificial landscape. They wanted to do terraced housing but they had a flat site, so they invented a slope site.

At Howard Park we had a very difficult site geometry. When we finally landed on a plan that worked. We found that if we cut into the two big triangles the comprise the site, it would create this staggered solution you can see on the upper floors and we got the same effect as the Mountain development. We quite loved that idea. All the units on the top of the building have terraces where in unit has two distinct terraces — each roughly 8 by 10 feet. The third one is always a planter, so the building will hopefully be entirely green eventually.

BBH: Can you describe the green features in more depth?

RRC: The planters are obviously great for passive cooling in the summer and cooling in the winter. We’ve designed the facade with a slotted metal system above the fifth storey. That’s done specifically so plants can weave their way in and out. It’s a very inexpensive cladding for the building.

BBH: The look of the building is very appealing, but it’s hard to articulate why it looks so good. Why do you like this aesthetic?

RRC: In all the work we do, we try and work within the constraints of the site that we’re in and the context we’re in. We try and find a design that works with what’s there and is unique to that site. In this instance it was the two triangular shapes of the site together with this idea of the terracing.

We have a notion about how you handle the streetfront of all the buildings. In larger structures like this, what’s really important is getting the ground plane right. We provided double storey units fronting the entirety of the Howard Park front. We’re providing a large, open public green space at the street which is a great break from the gas station and propane tank that are there now. I think it’s just a successful blend of all those complex site constraints and we found a solution that works with it. I always used to say “find the biggest problem with the site and solve that.” Everything else comes easier.

Thanks for giving us the full story Roland! For more info about Howard Park, please call 416 873 0989 or email ross@triumphinc.ca. Click here to visit the website.

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