Building Magazine


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[Misfit]fit


Photo credit: Batay-Csorba Architects

Photo credit: Batay-Csorba Architects

Liberty Village, one of Toronto’s oldest industrial districts, has become a rapidly intensifying mixed-use neighbourhood. How does one add to the area’s unique building fabric without simply reproducing what is there, or reverting to the contemporary default of a glass curtain wall?

[Misfit]fit, a new boutique office building in Liberty Village by Batay-Csorba Architects, is a compelling answer. The building references the district’s heritage brickwork, while attempting to rekindle Toronto’s faded love affair with precast concrete.

[Misfit]fit, which won an Award of Merit in the 2016 Canadian Architect Awards of Excellence, capitalizes on the economy of repetition offered by precast concrete without creating a static pattern of solid and void. A key inspiration was the neighbourhood’s old brick buildings—the way bricks protrude, shift and stack to produce ornament. Similarly, individual edges and profiles are pronounced within the precast façades, whose panels are designed with seeming disregard for adjacent units.

Photo credit: Batay-Csorba Architects

Photo credit: Batay-Csorba Architects

Just two façade panels—divided into six sub-panels and created from reusable moulds—are used to produce the office building’s concrete façades. Each façade reads not as a continuous surface, but as an accumulation of individual objects, revealed by the misalignment between them. Apertures are created through the removal of units, a process divorced from the stacking logic.

Instead of creating a monolithic volume, the design celebrates the imperfect and tenuous characteristics of the misfit, producing new perceptual, formal and spatial effects.