The Cabbagetown Northwest Conservation District is abundant with cherished Victorian homes. This neighbourhood’s rich diversity of 19th-century properties coalesce into one distinct identity for Toronto. Architectural styles such as the Bay and Gable, Gothic Revival, Second Empire, Georgian, and Worker’s Cottage are common in this area; however, there are three properties in the heritage district that stand-out from the rest: 29 Aberdeen Avenue, 216 Carlton Street, and 5-7 Millington Street. What’s so special about these homes is that they are examples of contemporary architecture; they mark the turn of the 20th-century in Cabbagetown.
Contemporary Architecture Characteristics
Defining contemporary architecture is difficult because it is an umbrella term for an array of different styles that have emerged over the last one hundred years. While it represents “the architecture of today”, pin-pointing a precise influence or trope cannot be done. Instead, one must speak generally about the form: contemporary architecture is typically unusually shaped, includes an open floor plan, connects indoor and outdoor spacing, favours natural lighting, and incorporates large windows in the frame.
Contemporary architecture is similar to but distinguished from modernism in that it rejects cold, linear layouts and embraces warmth, personality, and green living. Sustainable living has only be a recent push in the world of contemporary architecture, as designers focus more and more on environmentalism and recycling materials.
One of the largest differences between a modern home and a contemporary home is the property’s purpose — that is, modernism follows the maxim “form follows function”, whereas contemporary practice is not necessarily governed by such an idea.
As can be seen in the pictures of contemporary homes in Cabbagetown, there is not one particular form present in all three properties. While two of the homes illustrate the style’s reliance on large windows, the other captures the interconnectivity between outdoor and indoor spacing. One thing to note: contemporary architecture rejects ornamentation and favours a simple, clean, and open construction.