“40R” by superkul

John and Matthew profile a remodeling project by Toronto-based architecture firm, superkul.

  • Terri

    Matthew and John,
    Thanks for your interesting discussion on another laneway home. So innovative and beautiful–by using “outside the box” thinking which is actually inside the box in effect!

  • Steve in Van

    I quite like superkul’s work, and these light wells and the courtyard cleverly handle the bylaw and site challenges of this project.  At first I was put off by the black painted wood and steel exterior cladding, but an industial setting would seem to allow for it. 

    But I took a closer look at the photos, and now I’m not sure.  The bing and google shots below also confirm that Summerhill is an established residential neighbourhood, not reclaimed industial space.  This G&M article praises the structure as “minimal, rustic sculpture” but adds that other lane redevelopment has been sensitive to the local residential aesthetic. 

    So, I appreciate artistic expression — especially when clad in sustainability – but I’m not sure this is the place for it.  The only thing that now appears to be rusting and decaying in this neighbourhood is the exterior of this house.  What responsibility do architects have to the neighbours?   

  • Steve in Van

    I should clarify that while the southern part of this neighbourhood may have been industial, it’s now developed as residential in a style complementing its 19th C neighbors.  40R, even as renovated, is sharply at odds with its neighbours.  Its rusting walls may be an ironic gesture to the past, but is this the place for an artistic statement?

    And here’s the G&M article …

  • http://slowhomestudio.com Matthew North

    Steve – you raise some really interesting points that merit a discussion. I would argue that based on the “before” images – the superkul renovation is a welcome addition to the area and also represents a significant investment towards the long term vitality of the neighborhood. I like the exterior design and particularly like the re-use of the steel panels. I am now going to read the Globe article……thanks for attaching!

  • Terri

    It seems to me that this building is so small and has been a fixture in that neighbourhood for so long (120 years) that whatever “blight” someone might feel it presents is minor. It’s more of a tiny artistic statement, not shouting for attention, amid a changing landscape. I think I like it more after reading about its history and the re-use of the metal siding.

  • Oscar B. Morales

    Hello Steve in Van,
    I don’t know if your comments are real or you are being a devil’s advocate to stimulate conversation.
    Personally as a designer / Architect, I believe that the Architect has a big responsibility to the client and the client’s needs, on occasions Architects are fortunate to have patrons as is the case in 40R. The majority of architects service customers or consumers through developers.
    I have Earth Google the 40R neighborhood and I see a blend of great older architecture and some more recent interpretations of vernacular architecture, some I find lacking character although they are in the neighborhood context.
    This project, to me is an opportunity to do many things; it saves a structure that has significant neighborhood (historic) value, it is an adaptive use, is innovative and meets and or shows how to be clever about zoning laws and how to be able to end with a good project. I believe that is super a super “Slow Home”.
    It is unknown to me as whether the neighborhood presently objects to the final project or that it is an eyesore.
    I am glad that there are Architects that on occasion practice a kind of “civil disobedience “ when cornered  by either absurd building officials, unreasonable governing by-laws including those that make everything historical, or in keeping with neighborhoods looks or style.
    We need to be innovative within the given parameters and bring some change, think about this, if 4OR would have been wrapped in vinyl siding, or asphalt shingles as they did in the 1940s, yes it would be in context but perhaps not accepted today. But if forced to use a given material how can we use it in a fresh way.
    One last thing, I love the narrative of this project, all of its history and how it has survived, because of it, I like the project even more.
    Today’s zeitgeist is tomorrow’s vernacular and possibly our historical candidates.