Alex Bozikovic’s article in todays’ (04 September 2014)Globe and Mail, Home and Design section, addresses this question. The article describes a residential development in Toronto’s Bayview Village, known as “Crafthouse”. Bozikovic calls Crafthouse, “a modernist subdivision”and identifies external and internal modernist style elements present in Crafthouse, and in similar developments planned by Great Gulf Residential. Regarding the exterior, the Crafthouse presents,
a clean statement of good taste: They have flat roofs; expansive, well-placed windows; smooth, iridescent brick, laid in regular grids; panels of laminated timber, and nothing that looks even faintly Victorian. (p. L3).
On the inside,
The interiors are carefully designed, with plans that are largely open but have partly delineated spaces…there are no crown mouldings and the fixtures (such as lever-style door handles) fit into the range of good modern architectural taste. (p. L3)
The architect responsible for Crafthouse, Peter Vishnovsky, links the modern styling of interior space with modern family activity patterns:
A modern family functions differently than a family from the past…The idea was to keep the family together, but allow them to be separated at the same time as they do different activities. (p. L3)
An additional modern design element, according to Bozikovic, is the production process. Although the details are not included, it’s implied that Great Gulf employs a computerized factory system to create panels that are then assembled quickly on site.
Bozikovic’s article raises a number of questions for those interested in the space of modernism as expressed in Canadian architecture. Canada has always had an uneasy relationship with modernist architecture, at least in domestic applications. In 1935, the country’s first federal housing authority that developed as the result of its’ first housing legislation, the Dominion Housing Act, sponsored an architectural design competition. The winning design was a textbook example of the International Style that was then taking North America by storm. Public opinion was almost instantly negative. The flat roof was especially decried as both visually unappealing but more so prone to leakage in Canada’s varied environments. Less was judged to be, well, less, and future federal house competitions veered back to support more familiar domestic motifs, but with a subdued modern influence. If the developments described by Bozikovic prove successful, and spawn similar projects in other Canadian markets, it begs the question: why now?