Taking Back the City: Superkül Live/Work

There are a couple of themes that we drone on about at TreeHugger: how cities are part of the solution for global warming because people have smaller carbon footprints; how revitalization along transit lines gets more people out of cars; how efficient it is to work from home. We also love the urban mix of uses on mainstreets, where for generations people have lived over the store.

Andre D'Elia and Meg Graham live over the store; they are the principals of Superkül, a young architectural firm in Toronto. They bought a building next to the psychic on a sketchy street in the west end Toronto, put their office on the ground floor and their house above. Originally a two storey building with a shop on the ground floor and an apartment above, it had in the recent past been used solely as a residence. Its conversion to Home / Office involved its complete renovation and the addition of a third floor.


ground floor office

From the architect's description:

"Because of its mixed-use program, the tight project budget and existing zoning regulations, the only place for the project was a main street. This main street location works well with the City’s new Official Plan, which sees these streets in coming decades absorbing the city’s projected increase in retail, offi ce and service employment, as well as much of its new housing. The density and height of buildings along these streets are much as they were a hundred years ago; for reasons of social, economic and environmental sustainability, and considering shifting live-work patterns, they are now especially ripe for revitalization and intensification."


master bedroom third floor

"The building is currently divided almost equally between home and offi ce space but is designed to be adaptable; with small changes to the circulation and the partitioning, Home / Office is easily converted to a different proportion of uses and units. The conscious decision to design the building in this way better ensures a flexibility of use and occupation over the long-term."

For years, our main streets have deteriorated as the small stores and restaurants disappear in the face of the big boxes and chain restaurants. Currently in Toronto more and more of the stores have drapes over the windows as a crazy property tax system encourages owners to convert the storefronts to residential, killing the street life. Andre and Meg are setting an example of how creative people can take back the city and make our main streets live again. ::Superkül can be seen at ::Twenty+Change until July 8.

photos by Ben Rahn / A-Frame Inc.

Tags: Architects | Architecture | Toronto