Tornoto’s Cube House – a Piece of Whimsical Architecture

The Cube House with Adelaide St E highway bridge in the background

photography by: Omri Westmark

Reading time:

Whoever drives along the Don Valley Parkway in Toronto, will find it hard to ignore the oddly-shaped structure nestled amid the area’s nondescript skyline. Comprised of three interconnected hexahedrons stacked upon a narrow base, the Cube House was once a promising architectural experiment, which now faces an uncertain future, with a real-estate project threatening its very existence.

More often than not, architecture entails a trial and error process in a quest to balance between efficiency and aesthetics. While some designs are successfully reproduced in mass, others are forever bound to stay a mere prototype. One such intriguing example can be found in Toronto’s neighborhood of Corktown.

 

Wedged between multiple roads and expressways, the Cube House has baffled passersby and motorists for more than 25 years or so. Constructed in 1996, the quirky building was designed by architects Ben Kutner and Jeff Brown, who modeled it after the well-renowned Cube Houses in Rotterdam, built in the 1970’s.

 

As its name suggests, the Cube House comprises a trio of three-dimensional squares lying atop a smaller pedestal. Initially, Kutner and Brown had grand plans for their modular structure, intending it as a low-cost housing solution for land parcels, whose shape made it difficult to develop. In fact, according to the original concept, the house was supposed to change its whereabouts to multiple locations throughout the city, bestowing it with a great deal of flexibility.

 

Despite their best efforts to brand their unusual edifice as an innovative remedy for the high cost of living, Kutner and Brow’s brainchild ended up as the private residence of a tenant by the name of Martin Trainor. Concurrently, some of the cubes’ outer walls also served as billboard for a local coffee shop.

 

In 2018, the triangular plot of land along Sumach St. was purchased by real estate developers Taso Boussoulas and Jeff Craig who in turn, plan to replace the architectural oddity with a 35-story residential tower. While as for now, there is no exact date for its demolition, it seems as if the Cube House’s days are numbered. With some officials calling for its relocation and preservation, there’s might be a glimmer of hope, yet visitors who wish to appreciate the building with their own eyes are advised to take no risks, and do so as soon as possible.