In Canada’s pioneering history, shelter was once connected to the soil and the site, with timber logs split on ends for walls and stones stacked for a stable foundation. The use of natural materials for the creation of a homestead became an extension of the landscape – and with it created a place deeply rooted with a sense of belonging. Our connectedness to our home reflected our connection to the land, creating a harmonious balance between nature and our selves. Sadly, with Canada’s urbanization, housing appears to have lost its connection to the landscape, and with it much of its soulfulness.
Where homesteads were once extensions of the land, built for a lifetime with natural materials accommodating the opportunities and constraints of each site, today’s housing is radically different. Built with an economic life of around thirty years in a quest for modern efficiency and ease of construction, the standardization of materials has sadly brought conformity to the way shelter is produced. The shift from the construction of individual homes as sacred spaces reflecting the needs of each household to the dominance of mass production and consumption in the form of large scale tracts has brought new perceptions of what housing means.
Rarely today does the construction of shelter reflect a connection to the rhythm of our landscape or a place to revitalize body and soul. Often housing has become a statement of social status to symbolize self worth. Instead of permitting our shelter to nurture our internal growth and quest for balance – in essence as a place to restore our souls, we have sacrificed our connection to our housing and instead promote the superficial quest for beauty through status.
And somehow we know this, not so much in what we have but in what we suspect is missing. The basic human need to connect to the landscape surrouding our shelter is, however, understood by few building professionals. Massive condominium towers – the modernist box in the sky – trap spirit and body within concrete walls and skins of glass, without so much as an opportunity to view or participate in street life. Suburban frame boxes, row upon row, hide behind massive garages and line cul de sacs going nowhere, presenting a face so unfriendly it does not invite one to stay. Something has gone terribly wrong in our quest to put economic function and unbecoming streetscapes ahead of a sense of place and the spirit of home.
But there are opportunities for those who hear their calling. Quality of life has taken precedence over presentation of life, with less emphasis on the size of one’s home, the type of car one drives (if at all!), and the wardrobe one wears. Buyers are reevaluating what is important in the way they choose to live and spend their time. In the city centre, new and renovated vintage urban housing offering outdoor terraces, roof top decks and garden courtyards within personable human scale structures gives urban living the opportunity to reconnect to its community streetscape. The pendulum of hip is swinging downtown, with urban culture experiencing an enormous rebirth in the true cosmopolitan spirit of our European sisters. Main streets are filled with sidewalk cafes, galleries and boutiques, and the centres for arts and entertainment are again experiencing their own rebirths. Downtown has become a place you want to be, especially in Toronto, heralded as the globe’s most multi-cultural city!
At urbaneer.com, we spend as much time focusing on how you want to live as much as what you might buy. With a comprehensive understanding of Toronto’s 42 village neighbourhoods, and an acute awareness of how our built environment influences personal satisfaction, we pride ourselves on being one of the city’s more personable real estate boutique services offering a pressure & hassle-free approach to real estate sales and marketing. Log on to urbaneer.com to learn more about us! Not on-line? Just pick up the phone and call us for an introductory package. Thinking of selling? Our business is as much about promoting properties for sale as placing buyers. Ranking in the Top Ten of Bosley Real Estate’s 170+ sales associates, we are your friendly effective real estate team!