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KING

Location: Toronto, Canada

Status: In Progress

From the tall towers of the Central Business District to the East, to the low-rise neighbourhoods in the Northwest, the skyline is a mark of the city’s progress. Located at the crossroads of three 20th century neighbourhood parks, the redevelopment proposes a mixed use development with a public plaza that will create a new center for the community while connecting the various pedestrian pathways that crisscross the area. The building is organized as a traditional perimeter block with a public plaza in the center.

Up above, the building rises up to create four distinct mountain peaks with hundreds of terraces.

The materiality of the building façade is glass block due to its reflective, refractive and translucent qualities. Reflecting the urban environment during the day and glowing at night, this unique facade material allows the building to constantly be evolving and changing.

The building is organized as a traditional perimeter block with a courtyard in the center – this is a view inside the courtyard looking out towards King Street W. The courtyard is defined by two distinct atmospheres: a lushly landscaped forest at the East paired next to an urban, hardscaped court at the West. The resulting balance between these perceived opposites is a reflection of Toronto’s current state of rapid redevelopment: the union of old and new, an open community atmosphere in an intimate setting, calming green scenery within a bustling urban context.

Existing pedestrian laneways are preserved and connected to this generous public space, which forms the unifying missing puzzle piece of the emerging North – South axis of the district. This view is taken from Brant Street looking towards the main passageway through the courtyard to the Wellington Street at the South.

The building is accessible and visible from all sides making it an urban connector rather than a conventional building with a front facade and a back of house. The South lane, which backs onto a new park off Wellington Street will be animated through a series of smaller retailers.

At the base, pixels lift to provide 24/7 access across the courtyard, which will become a new destination for the neighbourhood. At the South, a large archway frames the access from the new park off Wellington Street into the courtyard.

KING is situated in a transitional area of Toronto. From the tall towers of the Central Business District in the East, to the low-rise neighbourhoods in the Northwest, the skyline is a mark of the city’s progress. Located at a crossroads of the established East-West corridor of King West with the emerging North-South connection from St. Andrews playground to the waterfront, the proposed mixed-use development will feature a public plaza and courtyard at the heart of King West while connecting the site to its surroundings through various pedestrian pathways that crisscross the area.

Surrounding this courtyard, KING rises as sets of pixels extruded upwards to create space for housing, retail and boutique offices—avoiding the footprints of heritage buildings that already exist on the site. Each pixel is set at the size of a room; rotated 45 degrees from the street grid to increase exposure to light and air.

This is a conceptual view from one of the terraces looking into the central courtyard, which shows an older iteration of the building façade materiality as pre-cast concrete. The central courtyard will provide a significant opportunity for a large suspended art installation.

Each home will have access to outdoor space in the form of terraces, balconies or balconettes, all overlooking the undulating roofscape above the central courtyard.

A view from Wellington Street of the new park and South façade of KING. The building is broken up into four distinct peaks and valleys, which allow sunlight to reach the public plaza below. The resulting undulating façade is a connective topography—allowing increased circulation through the neighbourhood while creating an abundance of green space normally reserved for the suburbs.

A presentation by Bjarke Ingels in 2016 on the initial design of KING.

Initial landscape architecture design concepts from Public Work.

BIG’s design process is very iterative: small and large-scale study models are made continuously from the first ideas to the finished design, making it possible to revisit the evolution of the project.

Initial interior design concepts for the public spaces and homes by BIG.