The "mini mid-rise" could help solve Toronto's housing problem


Toronto’s streets are full of under-construction high-rise residential buildings from big developers, but a Toronto architecture firm is proposing an alternative solution that would create more housing while also letting smaller aspiring developers get in on the action: the mini mid-rise.

Created by a team from Smart Density, the mini mid-rise is a compact, six- to eight-storey development style that could provide more units across the city without needing to build excessively tall structures. The design was created and selected as a winner of the Shift Challenge — a design competition from the Ontario Association of Architects focusing on how architectural thinking can tackle social issues.

“We were asking ourselves why we don’t see more mid-rise developments,” Naama Blonder, an architect at Smart Density who helped craft the design, told Daily Hive. “And basically one of the challenges that bigger buildings face is that the majority of the [Toronto] properties are pretty small and narrow, and making an assembly of all of them just makes the project much longer, more complex and quite frankly more expensive.

“So we thought why not create mid-rise buildings on just one of these properties instead of trying to reach a frontage of 100 feet, and that’s how the idea came to be.”

Mid-rise buildings are extremely popular in European cities like Paris, and Blonder sees them as a possible solution to Toronto’s unaffordable housing market, which has limited inventory and extremely stiff competition.