31 October 2008

Crossing the Grid

Dundas Street, TorontoPaul Whelan
Dundas Street meanders across Toronto’s orthogonal street grid leaving odd-shape lots and angles. Throughout its length the built response to its diagonal cut has created a variety of compromises as buildings twist to face the street while remaining aligned with the side property lines.

This particular example is in the Junction area of Toronto, a prosperous industrial town from the late 1880’s through to its absorption into the City of Toronto in 1909. The earliest surveys of the Junction show the strain of builders trying to decide which property line should establish a building’s orientation. Over time the Dundas Street alignment has become dominant, but 2867 Dundas retains a vestigial memory of this alignment conundrum.

The resulting convoluted shop entry optimises this site geometry to provide street frontage for three entries – apartment, bar and basement office. The incredibly demur bar occupies the most recessed and street-distant portion of this pocket of space. The decorative floor treatment, wood framed doors, glass displays and the brass and iron handrail are a necessary embellishment to entice passersby. The resulting space has become a semi-public extension of the sidewalk snaking into the heart of the building.

Whelan, Paul. 'Crossing the Grid: Dundas Street' On Site review, no. 19 Spring/Summer 2008
©Paul Whelan and On Site review

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