The vast majority of condominium suites in Toronto come with balconies or terraces, and they certainly raise unit value, but is this outdoor space that we all claim is essential really being well taken advantage of?

109OZ downtown Toronto condo development by Raw Design for Reserve PropertiesEast-facing balconies at 109OZ, rendering courtesy of Reserve Properties

Reserve Properties argues no, and hopes to fix that underutilization by enlisting the help of landscape architects David Leinster of the Planning Partnership and Scott Torrance for the terraces and balconies of 109OZ, a mid-rise condominium on Ossington Avenue designed by RAW Design. Torrance, behind the award-winning West Toronto Railpath, and Leinster, a partner in the renowned Sugar Beach design, are offering two distinct green space themes for the owners of the limited edition CityScape Lofts in the building. Both designs aim to maximize year-round usability. 

109OZ Toronto condo Torrance balcony design, Raw Design for Reserve PropertiesScott Torrance's "Al Fresco Kitchen Garden" concept, rendering courtesy of Reserve Properties

The first, from Torrance, is the "Al Fresco Kitchen Garden," a concept that appeals to those who cook more actively and prefer local food sources. It features modular cedar planters for growing herbs or flowers and an outdoor cooking prep area and storage unit, along with a stainless steel trellis for climbing plants and vines. Also included is a bistro-style table and chairs and a quick-dry lounge chair.

Torrance commented that he was primarily influenced by two projects he worked on; a temporary green roof design for a private corporation that was renting space, and another extremely low-maintenance green roof. The idea behind the temporary roof "was that it was temporary, almost portable. They could remove the garden if they had to." With the low maintenance roof, he focused on light-weight and low maintenance, because Torrance believes that the vast majority of condo residents don't want to put in the work required for tomatoes, geraniums and so on—plants that need everyday watering and lots of maintenance. "I see these balcony furnishings, and they always seem… awkward. So I looked at this modular system, with planters that can roll around with only as much soil as they need… We were really trying to get functionality that often exists on the inside of compact condos and bring it outside."

109OZ Toronto condo Leinster balcony design, Raw Design for Reserve PropertiesDavid Leinster's "Muskoka Cottage" concept, rendering courtesy of Reserve Properties

The second, from Leinster, is the "Muskoka Cottage", meant to provide an oasis in the city. Focusing on the green and the rustic, it includes atypical features such as wood dock flooring and a large daybed, along with weather-hardy teak stools and tables, moveable LED lamps and a compact grill. The colour scheme and materials are designed to reflect the Ontario wilderness.

Leinster's concept primarily came about from "thinking about small precious urban spaces as retreats." He said that he was trying to recreate the Ontario/Toronto idea of escaping to the cottage in the summertime, mainly through the use of natural materials to evoke casualness and a lack of formality. In the end, it's about coming home to "stand out on the balcony, look down at the city, and forget about everything else."

Both designs aim to be both low maintenance and highly adaptable, and ideal for all-season use. Reserve, along with the designers, hopes and expects such better outdoor space utilization to become the norm for more of Toronto's urban developments.

If you'd like to know more about 109 OZ, click to visit our dataBase page for the project, linked below, or get in on the discussion in one of the associated Forum threads. You can always leave a comment in the space provided on this page too.