V1-OVERVIEW-min Rendering: BIG

“We have a responsibility to make the city we live in more like our dreams,” said architect Bjarke Ingels, speaking on stage at an event last night hosted by developers Westbank and Allied. ‘How can architecture create communities?’ was the question Ingels sought to answer during his hour-long presentation at Koerner Hall in Toronto.

The principal of Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) shared slides and anecdotes from past projects before segueing into a more timely topic — his design for a mixed-use development with 500 residential units on King Street West.

Ingels said he was inspired by Israeli-Canadian architect Moshe Safdie’s Habitat 67, conceived 50 years ago for the world’s fair in Montreal as an alternative to suburban sprawl. Ingels hopes to build on this idea, using existing buildings to “lift up” the new development and varying its height to maximize natural light. The complex will feature retail and offices on the lower levels, with hundreds of apartment units and lush gardens above.

Toronto’s abundance of laneways also struck the architect, who will use them to connect to an open-air courtyard that serves as a multifunctional public space. To create an “experience from within,” Ingels will integrate a hemlock forest and innovative artwork. He’s hoping to place humidifiers in the courtyard that will cool the area in the summer and create snow-capped trees in the winter.

Apartment units will vary from one to three bedrooms, and each has its own balcony or garden terrace. The “pixelated” shape of the structure allows sunlight to enter rooms from multiple angles, creating a comfortable and healthy environment for residents. When viewed from above, Ingels described the project as looking like “one big landscaped footprint.” He, along with joint developers Allied and Westbank, anticipates breaking ground in 2017.

Ingels’ presentation was followed by a panel discussion with prominent Toronto architects and creatives, focused on the power of city building. The group covered themes such as inclusive design, architecture as a human right and visual storytelling. The floor then opened to questions from the audience. Check out more renderings of the BIG-designed King Street West development below:

V3_COURTYARD_DOWN-min Rendering: BIG

V4_COURTYARD 04_ARCH-min Rendering: BIG

V2_COURTYARD 01_UP-min Rendering: BIG

V7_INTERIOR 01-min Rendering: BIG

V5_SNOW HERO SHOT-min Rendering: BIG

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