These Stunning Modern Condos Encourage Urban Gardening
Craving some green? The Plant condos, designed by John Tong of tongtong+ (designer of The Drake and the Drake Devonshire), launch this month with an eye to urban farming. Built on the former site of Dufflet Pastries on Toronto’s Dovercourt Street, this 10-storey condo includes custom micro-garden beds for fresh herbs built into sidecars in the kitchen, and an internal greenhouse to cultivate seeds and act as a nursery for plants. “We want to promote the neighborhood and social interaction, the idea of growing food and the social aspect of agriculture,” notes John.
On the roof is a project amenity space that acts as a greenhouse and seed incubator, but also a social, industrial kitchen. “People in the building can invite guests to can foods, to learn about growing vegetables. The whole building is centered around the idea that people will come together to learn and cook.” Take a virtual tour of the space.
An indoor/outdoor communal space on the second storey includes an industrial-style kitchen designed to accommodate seasonal preparation of food, and host social events. In the winter, the indoor area converts to a greenhouse. “Producing food ourselves realigns our understanding of our environment. It’s also good for the micro-environment — insects, butterflies and bees are all necessary to keep the ecosystem functioning, and CO2 and oxygen cycling. A green roof will help process, purify and retain water before it enters into our urban infrastructure. It’s very prevalent in terms of managing our fresh water.”
Jonathan Westeinde, CEO of Windmill Developments, a partner in the project, explains: “The balconies and terraces at The Plant are really more like an 8-storey porch. They have their own structure, with railings and lattices, as well as a thermal break. So not only are they large and spacious, but they’re orientated to work with the sun and encourage plant life to take hold.”
“There is a joke that people who live in condos don’t cook, but the units are made for people to cook with lots of storage and pantry space,” says John. Inside each suite, custom micro-garden beds for fresh herbs will be built into sidecars in the kitchen. “We have a place for organic composting as well as an integrated herb garden located right into the counter in the kitchen island. Instead of a separate dining table, this surface is connected to the island, almost like a big chef’s table.”
“I have never seen balconies this big. The units are wide and shallow so you have more windows and more light, and the balconies are wide and deep so that micro agriculture can be located close to the kitchen,” says John. Each unit will come with a terrace or balcony with space for plants, furniture and a BBQ. “Units on the second level have a huge garden terrace, and it’s a green roof to retain fresh water with 360-degree views all the way around.”
Because of the angular outdoor spaces, sunlight flows unimpeded into the suites. “Greenery makes a sensory contribution. It’s soft and organic in our urban environment,” says John.
A colorful feature wall adds personality in the bedroom, and is reminiscent of the Drake’s quirky use of bold graphics and artwork.
In the main living spaces of the model suite, a wall art installation references blowing seeds, or sprouts pushing through the earth in a garden. “My parents are immigrants. I grew up with vegetables in my backyard, and it wasn’t so fashionable then. My parents have been doing it their whole lives. The sense of conservation, using our resources wisely and being environmentally friendly, is something that I don’t declare, it’s just part of our sensibility.”