We created KING Toronto as a direct response to a unique site that our partner Allied spent over a decade assembling, in one of Canada’s truly great neighbourhoods. We were attempting to create an architectural typology that could complement and celebrate the heritage buildings on the site, bring nature into the city and create an extensive, diverse public realm. At the core of our design we hoped to answer the question, how can architecture create community? We thought of this project as a way to demonstrate how architecture can meet some of society’s challenges.
Designed by our frequent collaborator Bjarke Ingels and inspired in equal parts by Moshe Safdie’s Habitat 67 and Pierre Chareau’s Maison de Verre in Paris, KING Toronto has become an architectural phenomenon, and one of the most interesting builds in the City of Toronto’s recent history.
The Penthouses at KING Toronto are the natural progression of this project’s journey, as it becomes a defining architectural moment for Toronto and the King Street West neighbourhood. We began to conceptualize these homes around this idea of living on a mountaintop, but one in the heart of a city, rising above the vibrant urban context of the King Street West neighbourhood. Inspired by their setting atop the North, South, East and West Mountains, the Penthouses are envisioned as floating sanctuaries, each overlooking a different part of Toronto. What we have created with these mountaintop Penthouses are unlike anything in the city.
Fusing the deep integration of nature through diverse foliage, mature trees and outdoor terraces with homes that are light and open, the Penthouses at KING Toronto rise high above the active streetscape to create calming sanctuaries in the sky. Each offer their own distinct environments and each feature stunning panoramic views of the city.
The penthouses are the last component to be offered for purchase, as they have taken several years to design. Which is what they deserve, given that each is essentially a custom-designed single family home, built atop a mountain.
Our exploration of Gesamtkunstwerk, the total work of art, began with BIG at Vancouver House and we have continued to explore this theme here, at KING Toronto. For the Penthouses, we began conceptualizing the interior design for each home by considering the journey from the welcoming lobbies to the private roof terraces as a continuous experience. The four welcoming lobbies of KING Toronto are differentiated by their locations and each provided a distinct theme for the design of the Penthouse interiors: North – An industrial chic aesthetic inspired by the industrial heritage building below; South – Green inspiration which represents the integration of nature throughout the homes; West – A celebration of Light reflecting the luminous glass block façade; and East – Warmth with an organic palette inspired by modernist Scandinavian architecture.
These themes are reflected in the designs for each of the North, South, West and East mountaintop Penthouses. For the North, the raw materiality of steel contrasts with refined, light glass. In the South, sun filled interiors and large outdoor terraces create a natural refuge in the sky and two stunning details, a teahouse and a greenhouse infuse the architecture with nature. For the West, a celebration and a manipulation of light forms the central theme and, in the East, light, Scandinavian details radiate warmth, creating calming, modern spaces characterized by organic forms.
The Penthouses are the final piece of the total work of art we are creating at KING Toronto. Their respective design themes have been curated to reflect their Mountain’s context and each home has been designed by Bjarke Ingels Group to be distinct and unique in the world. Of all Westbank’s estates to date, they are the strongest examples of our exploration of the total work of art. Above all they reflect a commitment to artistry and design, that has made our homes the most sought-after in the cities in which we practice.
We hope you enjoy turning these pages and experiencing our vision for the Mountaintop homes of KING Toronto. Thank you for taking the time,
—Ian Gillespie Founder, Westbank