The recent residential transformation by POST Architecture Inc. updates an Annex, 70’s style condominium unit into a contemporary, versatile, and customized home. Inspired by the idea of adaptability, the architectural transformation of this condominium maximizes space, and minimizes disuse, and builds around the beloved art collection of the owner. Old objects are integrated into the new spaces, and carefully designed millwork compliment the soft finishes and warm maple flooring to complete the transformation, delivering a cozy, comfortable, and tailored home.
Project Name: Collected Condo
Studio Name: Post Architecture Inc
Completion date: 2019
Building levels: 1
Location: Toronto, Canada
Photography: Riley Snelling
Downsizing from a Victorian home to a condo in Annex, the Owner of the Collector Condominium was unsure how the new unit would provide her with a familiar coziness: rooms filled with books and art, spaces full of memories. In addition to the sentimental objects and the Owner’s worldly possessions, the 900 SF condo needed to be flexible enough to accommodate overnight guests.
Naturally, as part of a building complex, the size of the unit wasn’t expandable, nor could the plumbing and structural systems be significantly altered. Therefore, the design strategy was to maximize space by minimizing disuse. This fourth-floor corner unit, in ‘70s style residential building, required sensitive customization to transform from an apartment to a home.
The design process began by documenting the various objects that were making a move with the Owner;: an inventory of artwork and furniture was taken, noting their size and any spatial requirements. Some of the Owner’s art collection, in particular, had been inherited from her late father (an architect) and needed to be appropriately displayed with indirect lighting.
The catalogued images were incorporated into the architectural drawings and 3D-models throughout the design process for cues on finishes, palette, and scale. This catalogue also provided context for the homeowner and the design team, assessing the proportions of the new spaces, given the extensive demolition that was proposed inside the unit.
Inspired by the idea of adaptability, the architectural transformation of this condominium connects various spaces in the unit. For example, as the central space, the Home Office/Den offers views through to the Living Area, Kitchen, and entry, and can be open or closed to those spaces by sliding a millwork door.
Furthermore, the design of the millwork in this space allows for the Den to quickly convert into a Guest Bedroom, hiding the computer hub and revealing a pop-up TV and a pull-out sofa bed. A tempered glass panel—inserted in the corner of the Den—keeps the millwork and walls from touching, making it feel part of both rooms rather than an isolated space. The glass, moreover, brings in dynamic views into the bathrooms, enlarging the spatial perception of each.
Throughout the process, ways of gaining storage and redeeming unusable space in the unit were examined. Interior partitions were identified as occupying 50SF of floor area in the condo, which could instead be turned into storage space.
Partitions were demolished, wherever appropriate, and replaced with customized floor-to-ceiling millwork that doubled as space dividers, storage, sliding partitions, and display units. They also served to conceal electrical conduits or structural posts that were part of the building’s infrastructure.
The Kitchen, which was once closed in by partitions on all four sides, gained additional floor area and storage by converting the dead space into a long, tall pantry unit, back to back with the refrigerator and appliance garage, and a 7’ long peninsula. Opening the views and access through to the Living and Dining Rooms also made entertaining much more comfortable and more social.
Similarly, swing doors were also targeted for space savings, noting that the swing of each door results in about 9 SF of ‘unusable’ floor area in front of it. In the main spaces, swing doors were replaced with wide, sliding doors that provide continuous views and the option of becoming part of a larger space or remaining small.
Flexibility to adapt to various degrees of connectedness further reduces unused floor area and creates comfortable spaces within. The wrap-around windows of this unit were softened by custom grey linen drapes which complement the blue-grey stained millwork and maple floors of the interiors.
They regulate the space to protect its privacy but also allow indirect north and eastern daylight to showcase the art and the warm finishes and materials of this contemporary and versatile home.