Toronto House is part of the Canada Water regeneration scheme bringing 2,000 new homes and civic spaces to 19ha of dockland in east London. The mixed-use block sits at the gateway to Maple Quays, a development of 900 new homes, retail and £9.5m worth of public realm improvements. Toronto House’s highly activated elevations befit the building’s prominent location to create a strong sense of place for this new neighbourhood on former light industrial land. The mixed-use building comprises eight storeys, 63 flats (including 35% affordable), offices, a surgery, gym, shops and a café.
Our carefully considered yet daring design helped to achieve a change-of-use planning permission. The building addresses ground-level and raised transport links on all sides. The syncopated curves of its southern elevation appear to have influenced other London waterside schemes since the building’s completion in 2012.
Sandwiched between road and canal, this prominent site called for a considered design response that would enhance the experience of passers-by and exploit potential views for future occupants.
The site’s irregular shape informs the footprint, producing a dramatic, knife-edged eastern elevation. The southern elevation’s ground floor enlivens the waterside walkway with retail units, while above, long glass balconies ripple exuberantly, stylising the movement of the water below, and providing a striking backdrop to the new public square and library beyond.
Above ground floor, the northern elevation addresses the elevated section of Surrey Quays Road with a layered façade that offers visual interest to travellers, while buffering the apartments from traffic noise and fumes.
The building respects Canada Water’s history, with timber used in the façades and a maple leaf motif referencing the area’s connection with the Canadian shipping industry. The material and colour palettes minimise the building’s impression of height, while sandstone helps integrate it with the public realm.
We obtained planning permission for the land’s change-of-use from B8 (warehouse) to residential-led mixed-use (A1, A3, B1, C3 and D1). A mixed tenure includes affordable and private sale housing, along with a medical practice, offices, retail and a street-level restaurant.
While leading the pre-application process we made several presentations to Southwark’s Design Review Panel, resulting in a design that met Southwark Council’s ambitions for the borough’s biggest regeneration project.