Masonry Werx Student Competition | Toronto, Ontario
In collaboration with: Richard Mui, Soo Woo
Masonry’s continued use throughout history has imprinted its image onto our collective memory. The fine grains of individual blocks in a facade are both familiar and admirable. More traditional architectural styles used intricate masonry patterns to convey symbolic meanings and cultural expressions through buildings. After the advent of Modernity and abstract aesthetics, we as a society prefer implicit rather than explicit ornamentations. The question is: how can we employ the artisanal craft of masonry to express a contemporary residential space within the city?
Looking at a brick wall, one can find that the bricks read as the solid (positive) objects, whereas the mortar appears to be the void (negative) objects. In a residential project, the most important elements are the units themselves: the voids which we occupy. In this line of thought, we sought to conceptually invert the relationship between the brick and the mortar, the solid and the void. Each unit is therefore visually expressed as a concrete block, with the brick reveal representing the mortar in between. A similar relationship has been carried over to the macro scale of the building, where each of the residential wings are expressed as a stack of concrete blocks, with the amenity upper level courtyard expressed with bricks. On the ground floor, we have introduced stone masonry to tie down the entire composition on the earth and hence make it feel more grounded.
The urban strategy of the building is rather simple. The space is currently being used as a part of the popular Junction market. If a new building was to be introduced in the space, the market would lose its street presence on Dundas St. Therefore, we sought to create a symbiotic relationship between the proposed intervention and the existing context: the new building will double as a gate and a storage space for the market, The neighbours, as well as the residents, get to continuously enjoy the local food and the entertainment that are vital for urban culture. We strongly feel that this will generate the greatest value for the city and its residents.