Reina is a solid example of women’s representation and strength in the business. It stands tall at 9-storeys high, as the first-ever all women-led project in Canada and borrows its unique name from the Spanish term for “Queen”. Designed exclusively for the Etobicoke community, the urban condominium project is one of a kind not only because it is led by a strong set of women, but also because of a very fresh take on housing and allied functions. Taya Cook and Sherry Larjani put together a team of talented exclusively female designers, engineers, artists, marketing experts, and building construction consultants. Quadrangle, the design firm responsible for this beautiful project has set new standards for inclusion and equal representation of all genders in the industry.
The design process spanned over a year and shaped its concept and design from the extensive research and surveys done by the team to cater to residents with various backgrounds and needs. The surveys explored the preferences of joint families, nuclear families and young adults. This led to the development of a very inclusive design that is a reflection of people coming from various walks of life living under one giant community, shaped to act like a big common house for all.
Reina has a very contemporary take on housing and the current urban housing scenario in Ontario. It offers flexible floor plans, reconfigurable spaces on alternate levels, recreational pockets and most importantly, spaces that can breathe naturally. The façade speaks volumes about the brains behind the design as it is a soft and feminine yet edgy and powerful quilted texture that wraps around the structure leaving enough offset on the east and west front.
On the southern side, one can see the large balconies overlooking the oasis-like exterior courtyard. The 6500 square feet courtyard houses the harvest garden, series of barbeques, kids play areas and gardens. The overall color scheme followed for the project is very neutral and has dashes of pastel shades in various textures running throughout the height of the room as bands. Various modules are available depending on the number of family members that vary from larger houses with common spill outs for joint families and smaller houses with more workspaces for young adults. The suites offer a massive ceiling height of 9 feet in exposed concrete with large full-length rolling doors with wide length laminate as the flooring. To encourage the concept of community-oriented living that explores the possibility of all residents interacting and living in harmony, Reina offers large common spaces like the “messy room” where one can unleash the artist in them, a sound-less room which is acoustically treated to be ideal for residents interested in music and a giant kids playroom in front of the gym with large glass windows so that parents can keep a watch over their kids while working out. Such tiny thoughts that have gone into the planning of this project are truly a reflection of the sensitivity the team has towards family-based values, holistic growth, development, and well-being of the users.
The team also planned for seamless integration of transport into the site by the construction of a new walkway by PMA Landscape Architects that connects the Penhurst and Wesley streets in the neighborhood to ensure safe transit of the students and parents who go to nearby schools and offices. There are 197 units in total that are connected visually via overlooking balconies, terraces and shared amenities. The sharing room is specifically designed to bring the residents together to encourage the lost traditional concept of borrowing and no buying, hence creating an area where one can exchange books, furniture, etc, instead of disposing of it. Reina plans to give back to society, both economically and socially. The manicured lawns span throughout the site’s boundary and are seen as organically planned pockets that integrate nature and housing. Organic gardens, yoga paths, zen zones intermittently placed between beautifully designed pause points like tiny ponds, fountains, and terraced seating. Reina also believes in sustainable living and has recycling rooms and wastewater treatment plants, to efficiently reuse the water in the lawns and gardens. In addition to that, parking facilities for specially-abled users and other barrier-free initiatives are taken to make the design more inclusive.
The project is a source of inspiration for all young women who aspire to create their mark in the industry and create history. It also is an example of women creating designs through their own experiences and stories, which is what makes it even more special.
“Women can learn a lot through sharing. By sharing their own good and bad experiences, women can inspire and support each other to help sharpen their skills” – Ar. Parul Zaveri