Tag Archives: Plumbing
For many, moving to an urban apartment is about tapping into the excitement and cultural opportunities of the big city and can also mean a shorter commute to work. But finding a place in the city can mean sacrificing the larger living spaces found in the suburbs or country. Increasingly, urban dwellers are finding that loft apartments offer the location and opportunities of city life with far more space than average condos or apartment homes. What’s the idea behind lofts, and why are they so popular?
Lofts have a certain allure. With high ceilings, open floor plans, rough-hewn floors, and brick walls, they are a hip housing alternative for many urban professionals. Today’s loft dwellers embrace new-age metropolitan living in all its glory.
Those who buy these unique dwellings have shaken off long daily commutes, granting them more personal time, more cultural and entertainment possibilities and an active, city lifestyle. If you crave something eclectic, out of the ordinary and convenient to all the city has to offer, a loft may be for you! Select from newly constructed (soft) lofts, or restored historical building loft conversions (hard lofts).
One definition for a loft found on the Web is — An appeal against convention- convention in thinking, convention in building and convention in living. They are a celebration of open concept living and unconventional spaces brought about by the considered application of imagination and a rejection of mass-market housing.
The origin of the word loft comes from the Old Norse lopt which means “upper room “or “air”. In 19th-century English usage the word came to mean “the upper stories of a warehouse or factory”. The modern boom in the conversion of such spaces into living areas came in the 1940s in the SoHo District of New York City. By the 1970s so many of these conversions had been done that the city was forced to re-zone the area to make such conversions legal.
By the 1980s the concept was spreading first across the United States and then to Europe and Asia. As the trend grew it caught the attention of developers identifying a new market. Developers being developers did not let a lack of owning an existing warehouse or factory building to convert stop them from moving into the new market. Thus the new word loft began to be applied to units in ground up new construction. Needless to say the term grew fuzzy.
By 2005 the term loft has matured. Lofts created from spaces in existing buildings are called hard lofts or true lofts. Lofts built new from the ground up are typically referred to as soft lofts or new lofts or loft-inspired or mezzanine suites. Whether created out of an existing building or built ground up new, all lofts have certain common elements or they are not lofts.
Lofts are part of the Postmodernism movement in architecture. Postmodernism is a counter- reaction to the strict and almost universal modernism of the mid-20th Century. It embraces elements from historical building styles incorporating them without a rigid adherence to one style. It also does not as policy try to hide the structural or mechanical elements of a building but often uses these in the design.
What is a “hard” loft?
A true loft is a conversion of a vintage factory or warehouse. They have a harder edge as they are usually constructed of concrete or “mill” construction of exposed brick, original wood posts, beams and floors. Typically, these lofts have an open floorplan and unfinished ceilings that are at least 10′ high with exposed ducts, plumbing and electrical. Examples include the Merchandise Building, Liberty Lofts and the Toy Factory Lofts.
What is a “soft” loft?
In recent years developers have built new buildings with some of the characteristics of a hard loft such as high ceilings, big windows and open floorplans. These lofts typically have a softer edge… no exposed ducts and plumbing, carpet in some areas and upscale kitchens and baths. Soft lofts have more in common with traditional condominiums than a true hard loft.
What is an “artist live/work” loft?
Toronto bylaws allow for the development of buildings with “artist live/work” zoning. The first of these developments appeared on Shanly Avenue (near Queen and Gladstone) and most featured minimal finishing, 16′ ceilings and steel frame construction. The City’s zoning restricted their use to people who were engaged in a precisely defined list of artistic activities. Over time these buildings have come to be occupied by people who simply enjoy the loft life.
Here are some of the unique joys of the loft life:
* Industrial buildings – The term loft began in New York and Chicago when renters and owners began turning old industrial buildings into living spaces. The original tenants were artists who craved the high ceilings, large windows and open floor plans typical of converted warehouses and factories.
* Open spaces – The primary benefit of loft living is the large open spaces that allow you to live and move how you want, rather than having your movement defined by a permanent floor plan of walls, doorways and rooms.
* Define your areas – In a loft, the floor plan can be fluid and ever changing. You can set up a sleeping area in one part of the space, then move it somewhere else if you have guests or if you just need the area for another use. Kitchens and bathrooms are more permanent, of course, but temporary partitions, hanging curtains, or even changes in floor covering can define other spaces.
* Eclectic style – Another nice aspect of many lofts is the opportunity for eclectic design and decorating. For example, a loft might feature soft, delicate window treatments on reinforced factory windows, or a modern couch sitting on a hundred-year-old hardwood floor. This mixture of old with new and practicality with comfort can form a wonderful esthetic that makes the most of a loft’s mixed-use nature.
* Open, flowing floor plans
* Minimal uses of interior walls to define space and doors to close off areas
* High ceilings – some definitions set minimum ceiling heights at twelve feet or it is not a loft just a condo with high ceilings
* Exposed piping, ductwork, structural elements
* Large windows
* Access to the sky often with roof top gardens or decks
* Easily merges living and work space, blurring the lines between workplace and residence
* Mixes traditional mediums with modern finishes- concrete, metal, stone, brick, wood used freely alongside of drywall, ceramic tile and viny
Contact the Jeffrey Team for more information – 416-388-1960
Laurin & Natalie Jeffrey are Toronto Realtors with Century 21 Regal Realty.
They did not write these articles, they just reproduce them here for people
who are interested in Toronto real estate. They do not work for any builders.
Incoming search terms
Technology and a new ecological consciousness are transforming the innards of some new houses
John Bentley Mays – Globe and Mail
Driving or walking along the leafy streets in the Governor’s Bridge district of Rosedale, you might never notice the house I’m writing about this week. It’s new, but it fits without a glitch into the quiet urban streetscape of similarly new, stylistically old-fashioned homes.
What counts about this 3,400-square-foot dwelling is not its architecture, which is hardly daring or inventive, but its exceptional efficiency. Using some of the most advanced energy systems now available in the marketplace, Toronto designer Richard C. Brightling has created a house that looks forward into the future of construction, when all new residences will be required to perform much better than they do now. With clients demanding greener solutions to their need for housing, and architects increasingly adept at coming up with such solutions, that future is not far off.
Energy-saving features of the Governor’s Bridge house include a high-performance building envelope that is insulated to a standard considerably beyond what is now required by city construction codes. The atmosphere inside this tight skin is kept fresh and clean by an exchanger that replaces and filters the air every four hours.
Heating and cooling is accomplished with a $70,000 geothermal system. Six fluid-carrying tubes have been sunk 200 feet into the ground, where the temperature is a steady 14.4 C. Pumped up to the surface and into a control room in the basement – this tightly packed, high-tech facility resembles what I imagine a submarine interior to look like – the fluid is then used to modify the temperature of fan-forced air. Geo-thermal energy is not free; electricity is needed to run the pumps and raise the temperature from its base level of 14.4C to something more comfortable. Nevertheless, Mr. Brightling told me, his clients’ annual savings on air conditioning come in at 30 to 40%.
Hot water for showers, dishwashing and so forth is generated by solar thermal panels installed on the roof. Glycol (which does not freeze in winter) circulates through the panels, gathering heat from the sun that, in turn, heats water in the tank. I was surprised to find that the tap water was very hot indeed – on a cool spring day, with little or no help from hydro. This $8,000 system works efficiently in our northern climate for most of the year, Mr. Brightling said, taking notable strain off the electricity grid (and hence lightening the electric bill).
Being a confirmed apartment-dweller, I don’t have a lawn, nor do I understand the North American obsession with having lawns. But if one must keep a green patch out front and back of the house, it should pull its weight, environmentally speaking. It does so here. Mr. Brightling has installed a 4,500-litre tank under the back yard of this project that effectively catches rain water running off the roofs of the main house and the garden shed and makes this water available for irrigating the lawns. This uncomplicated plumbing arrangement is an example of good ecological stewardship, especially in a city that wastes far too much water.
Back inside the house, Mr. Brightling has introduced a few other smaller features that also enhance the pleasure and sense of security in living there. There are the ceiling sprinklers, for instance – nearly invisible fixtures intended to deploy individually when the air around them reaches 100 C. And there is the lighting, equipped with low-wattage LED and halogen bulbs to further enhance the energy efficiency of the house.
These, then, are the major and minor systems at work in Mr. Brightling’s technical outfitting – some complex, others simple, all suitable for comfortable living in a sustainable, environmentally responsible manner. Nor is the cost of these green measures, as a percentage of total expenditure, really prohibitive. Of the $1.8-million it took to build the Governor’s Bridge house, only $150,000 was invested in green technologies – all of which will bring cost savings down the line.
Now, to marry such advanced thinking about the environment to contemporary good design! Like the passion for lawns, the desire for a 2010 house that looks like it was done in the 1920s escapes me. Windows were small back in those days, interiors were chopped up into small rooms, the middle of the building was always dark. To be fair, Mr. Brightling has opened up the rear of the Governor’s Bridge house to the light, but the front façade is as fusty and serious as anything in Rosedale from 80 years ago. The architectural taste of Rosedale residents, it appears, has some catching up to do, if it’s to stay abreast of the technological advances taking root in their dignified old neighbourhood.
Incoming search terms