Double Duplex by Batay-Csorba Architects
Its neighbors are grand Victorians with lofty gables and elegant bay windows in stained glass. Yet on this quiet street in Toronto’s historic Parkdale neighborhood, the just completed Double Duplex more than holds its own.
“We always find ways of integrating a project with its context—from massing to datum lines to material transitions— if not necessarily with overt symbols,” says Andrew Batay-Csorba. He and wife, Jodi Batay-Csorba, founded their eponymous practice, currently focused on residential projects, after years of working on large public buildings for such firms as Morphosis and Gehry Partners.
Each 3,500-square-foot building here contains two stacked duplexes. The red brick bases give way to intricately designed screens on the upper levels, made from vertical strips of thermally treated, rot-resistant wood. Connecting those strips are variously angled wood pieces that, depending how sunlight hits them, reveal abstract patterns. Those designs were developed through 3-D digital and physical modeling. “The screen was a way to provide a level of detail and craft that is representative of the neighborhood,” says Andrew. It also engages passersby, as the porch culture of a bygone era did, while providing a level of privacy for the terraces behind them.
The architects are very interested in how a building—even a house—can create public space. They enlisted a local graffiti artist to paint the walls of the partially enclosed rear patios and front entries to the basement units. These face doubleheight living spaces to bring daylight, and a bit of the street, into the below-grade areas. Light wells over the upper units’ kitchens are similarly painted. According to Andrew, “That kind of immersive supergraphic gives you a lot of bang for your buck.”
The rest of the bare-bones interiors feature exposed mechanicals and offthe- shelf products including diamond plate stairs, generally used in commercial or industrial applications.
Nearby residents initially protested Batay-Csorba Architects’ proposal, but after being allowed inside the design process and review meetings, they were won over. Now finished, Double Duplex is a contemporary addition that fits right in.
Personnel in architect's firm who should receive special credit:
Andrew Batay-Csorba_Principal in Charge (Registered Architect)
Structural Engineer: Secant Engineers Inc.
The Mada Group Inc.
Wood, Structural Steel
Metal panels: Vicwest Metal Siding
Wood: Wood Screen: Thermal Wood Canada
Built-up roofing: Built-up roofing
Skylights: Skylights: Velux
Other: PVC Window Frames: Tiltco Fenistration
Entrances: PVC Window Frames: Tiltco Fenistration
Sliding doors: PVC Window Frames: Tiltco Fenistration
Cabinetwork and custom woodwork: scavolini kitchen
Solid surfacing: black quartz countertops
Floor and wall tile: Engineered Wood Floor: White Oak