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Bjarke Ingel’s Group Designs Habitat 2.0 for Toronto’s King West

Architecture firm BIG’s verdant mixed-use complex, reminiscent of Moshe Safdie’s experimental Habitat 67 housing in Montreal, has been approved for Toronto. The King West Street development, first revealed in 2016, has gained permission to begin construction in Canada’s largest city. Its design by Bjarke Ingels’ firm BIG comprises stacks of cubes, arranged in an undulated form that creates a series of “peaks and valleys”.

The studio founded inspiration in Canadian-Israeli architect Moshe Safdie’s iconic Habitat 67 project, which is made similarly of box-like modular units. Ingels referred to his Toronto building as “Habitat 2.0” in an Instagram post when it was first unveiled. “With King Street West, we wanted to find an alternative to the tower and podium you see a lot of in Toronto and revisit some of Safdie’s revolutionary ideas,” said Ingels in a public statement. “But rather than a utopian experiment on an island, have it nested into the heart of the city.” The 613,543-square-foot (57,000-square-metre) King Street West project is set to be built along King West, between Spadina Avenue and Portland Street.

“The topography of the peaks and valleys provides terraces for larger units, while others have balconies stacked along the building’s perimeter,” BIG’s statement said. “Each pixel is set at the size of a room; rotated 45 degrees from the street grid to increase exposure to light and air. An undulating design allows light to reach neighbouring King Street all year round.”

The project features an structural undulating façade which creates additional much needed green space in the downtown core. “With King Street West, we wanted to find an alternative to the tower and podium you see a lot of in Toronto and revisit some of Safdie’s revolutionary ideas, but rather than a utopian experiment on an island, have it nested into the heart of the city. It would be strange if one of the most diverse cities in the world had the most homogenous architecture.” Bjarke Ingels, Founding Partner, BIG.

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