West Don Lands

cobe west don lands exterior cobe west don lands exterior
Three buildings –
one community

Year: Commissioned 2018, completed 2022

Client: WDL 8 LP - a client group consisting of Dream Unlimited, Kilmer Van Nostrand Co. Ltd. and Tricon Capital Group

Program: Mixed-use including residential and retail

Size: 42,300 m²

Located in a former industrial area in Toronto, Canada, called West Don Lands, the site is located at the intersection between three distinct neighbourhoods. The project stacks the architectural components from the three neighbourhoods: Townhouses, warehouses and silos, creating a building complex that both responds to its surroundings and contributes by adding new distinctive, robust and diverse architecture. The project’s three buildings contain 770 rental apartment units in total, of which 30 percent are affordable units. Cobe has designed two of the three mixed-use buildings. The project provides all residents with a generous apartment, flooded with light through floor-to-ceiling windows and access to attractive amenity spaces. All in all, the project encourages public life and a sense of community among the residents and the local community. It is designed to meet LEED Gold certification, with energy cost savings of 26-30% over NECB 2011, and performance 29% better than NECB 2015.

cobe west don lands bricks

Celebrating the area’s different styles in an inviting housing complex that both adapts to its surroundings and contributes by adding new distinctive and robust architecture to the city.

cobe west don lands timeline

For more than a century, Toronto has been rapidly growing. The consequence of this rapid urbanization in Toronto has resulted in soaring house prices and households, with average incomes being pushed out.

The site is a former industrial area, previously housing railyards and meatpacking warehouses and the neighbouring Distillery District, blending Toronto's industrial heritage with modern apartments.

cobe west don lands aerial view

Over the 19th and 20th centuries, the WDL evolved into a patchwork of railyards, industrial warehouses and working class neighbourhoods. Today, it is ringed by several neighbourhoods, each with its own unique character and materiality: The brick warehouses of the Distillery District, the glass and steel of the Canary District, the Olmsteadian Corktown Commons, and the last vestiges of an industrial waterfront.

From rapid urbanization
to affordable housing
cobe west don lands news

Toronto faces 33% growth in population over the next 20 years, and though renters comprise 22% of households, only 10.9% of new residential construction is purpose-built rental.

Toronto’s rapid urbanization has resulted in soaring housing prices, and average-income households are being pushed to the fringes of the city – or even into neighbouring cities – adding congestion to the already strained roads. The project is a City of Toronto pilot to address the pressing need for purpose-built, high-quality rental housing for residents of all income levels.

cobe west don lands exterior

The architectural finishes are taken from the adjacent buildings to create a stacked hybrid.

Building communities
by evenly distributing
affordable housing
cobe west don lands collage

From industry to mixed-use city: West Don Lands is being transformed from disused industrial lands into a mosaic of modern mixed-use communities.

The site is located at the junction between three distinct neighbourhoods, each dating from a different era and with its own unique architectural expression, from the red-brick warehouses to the industrial silos on the harbour front.

Bringing heritage into a new neighborhood

cobe west don lands digram

The brick warehouse creates the continuous podium, reflecting the industrial vernacular of Distillery District tank houses.

cobe west don lands digram

The brick grid from the warehouse architecture creates the continuous mid-rise.

cobe west don lands digram

The silo creates the iconic towers: An urban ensemble of unique structures, echoing the grain silos of the Toronto Central Waterfront.

cobe west don lands materials

Three neighbourhoods come together in one building.

Celebrating the area’s different styles in an inviting mixed-use housing complex that both adapts to its surroundings and contributes by adding new distinctive and robust architecture to the city.

cobe west don lands model
cobe west don lands model

Evenly distributing affordable housing and amenities.

cobe west don lands diagram gif cobe west don lands diagram gif cobe west don lands diagram gif

Cobe has designed two of the three buildings, containing 461 rental apartment units including 30% affordable rental units which are indistinguishable in their design from the rest. The affordable units are spread throughout the building, adding to its diversity and creating social equality among the residents. Furthermore, 10% of all units are sized for families, in accordance with the City’s 'Growing Up: Planning for Children in New Vertical Communities'.

cobe west don lands diagram

The three buildings are tied together underground by a joint parking garage with one point entry.

cobe west don lands diagram

By removing cars from grade level, a generous public space is created between the buildings.

cobe west don lands diagram

Set backs in volumes are utilized for green outdoor amenity spaces. Bridges are added to connect these spaces and heighten social interaction among the tenants.

cobe west don lands diagram

Block A and B are designed by Cobe and Block C by architectsAlliance. A cohesive design in materials and massing.

By removing cars from the ground level, the design creates a generous public space in between the buildings, and parking garage and loading bays have only one entry point. Setbacks in volumes are utilized for green outdoor amenity spaces. Bridges are added to connect spaces and heighten social interaction between the three buildings. A cohesive design in materiality and massing.

Public space provides
room for urban life
cobe west don lands exterior children
cobe west don lands exterior street

In the public spaces between the buildings there is room for urban life to unfold on open plazas, in intimate urban green spaces and on quiet pedestrian streets with room for children to play.

cobe west don lands exterior street

Through a series of setbacks, the buildings scale down the streetscape and offer a variety of public green spaces and resident terraces on multiple levels. Resident amenities are strategically connected with rooftop outdoor spaces, celebrating the view of the Inner Harbour and downtown Toronto while revealing the dynamic life of the building to the city.

Location: Toronto, Canada

Client: WDL 8 LP - a client group consisting of Dream Unlimited, Kilmer Van Nostrand Co. Ltd. and Tricon Capital Group

Program: Mixed-use including residential and retail

Size: 42,300 m²

Year: Commissioned 2018, completed 2022

Collaborators: architectsAlliance, Claude Cormier + Associés Inc., Thornton Tomasetti, RWDI, Cole Engineering, DesignAgency, MVShore, BA Group

Team: Anders Gade Jørgensen, Ben Goss, Charlie Landefeld, Dan Stubbergaard, Doug Smith, Elias Lindh, Francisco José Gómez Tirado, Jacob Lantow, Joseph Haberl, Kelly Skaggs, Sidse Eskildsen, Teresa Fernández Rojo, Thomas Krarup, Tonny Jensen, Will Lambeth.

Awards: 2019 Canadian Architect Award of Excellence

Image Credits: Please note that we had used a small number of images for which the copyright holders could not be identified. In these cases it has been our assumption that such images belong to the public domain. If you claim ownership of any of the images presented and have not been properly identified, please notify Cobe and we will make a formal acknowledgement.