In the realm of urban housing, natural light is a highly valued commodity—it's almost as precious as outdoor space or waterfront views. With a proposed housing unit in Toronto , architecture firm ODA New York seems to have successfully delivered all three amenities. Inspired by such landmarks as Machu Picchu and the Mesopotamian ziggurats, the firm wanted to bring the potential of vertically layered architecture to the city’s downtown. Called Merchants’ Wharf, the L-shaped apartment building is composed of staggered cubes that not only form a striking profile but also allow 163 of the 228 units (71 percent of the building) to have views of Lake Ontario. The modular form, which appears to twist from afar, also allows for 68,550 square feet of outdoor space—221 of the units have terraces. The building’s design also ensures that throughout day, as the sun rises and sets, natural light will stream into different apartments, providing residents with more sunlight than traditional high-rises.
A closer view of the individual apartments stacked atop each other.
According to the firm, while Toronto has seen an increase in vertical living, its high-rise residential buildings fail to deliver a sense of community as well as access to sufficient outdoor space. As a result, the plans for Merchants’ Wharf incorporate a large communal terrace and pool area facing the waterfront, a day-care facility, and nearly 11,000 square feet of retail space on the ground floor. Although the project is currently a proposal, ODA New York is counting on its innovative design to be instrumental in Merchants’ Wharf one day coming to fruition.