Peter Dickinson’s Tower Demolished @63 Belshaw Place, March 3, 2011.
Perhaps the cure for those who disparage modernism is to sit in a field and look at it, really look at the design.
Occupying the space behind Nelson Mandela Park Public School for over two months these images reveal the dismantling of one of Toronto’s modernist awarding winning Towers.
I grew very attached, not only to the design of the Tower, but to its strength. It became more than a slab.
The plans of a typical “skip level apartment” with one, two and three-bedroom units, had internal stairs with the elevator stopping on every other floor. The pattern of the windows, which divide the façade into twelve vertical sections, are a significant characteristic of the exterior design. The apartments were designed with light coming from two directions, cross-ventilation and views of the city. The 14-storey towers dominated Regent Park, aligned to compass points rather than a street grid. The balconies gave exterior access to adjoining apartments but were later removed.
Dickinson’s Maisonette Towers were inspired by the Corbusian ideal.
“Le Corbusier’s most influential late work was his first significant postwar structure—the UnitÈ d’Habitation in Marseilles of 1947-52. The giant, twelve-story apartment block for 1.600 people is the late modern counterpart of the mass housing schemes of the 1920s, similarly built to alleviate a severe postwar housing shortage. Although the program of the building is elaborate, structurally it is simple: a rectilinear ferroconcrete grid, into which are slotted precast individual apartment units, like ‘bottles into a wine rack’ as the architect put it. Through ingenious planning, twenty-three different apartment configurations were provided to acccommodate single persons and families as large as ten, nearly all with double-height living rooms and the deep balconies that form the major external feature.” (Marvin Trachtenberg and Isabelle Hyman. Architecture: from Prehistory to Post-Modernism. p541.)
For further info: http://www.galinsky.com/buildings/marseille
Unité d’habitation (Cité Radieuse)
280 boulevard Michelet
References and interesting articles, books, blogs written about Peter Dickinson, the Towers and Regent Park redevelopment, then and now.
Purdy, Sean (2003b) ‘“Ripped Off” by the System: Housing Policy, Poverty and Territorial Stigmatization in Regent Park Housing Project, 1951–1991
Sean Purdy, Framing Regent Park: the National Film Board of
Canada and the construction of ‘outcast spaces’ in
the inner city, 1953 and 1994 Temple University, Philadelphia, Pa.
15 Belshaw Place is next.
The apartment towers of Regent Park South and the old “slum” house in the background. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1231, Item 1603B. (Purdy)