Toronto’s CN Tower is no longer the world’s tallest freestanding structure. To breathe new life into the landmark, a local firm has devised a solution: hang modular, timber-framed condo units from its sides.
The CN Tower’s 34-year reputation as the tallest freestanding tower in the world was toppled in 2010, when the Canton Tower in Guangzhou was completed, surpassing the Toronto landmark by just over 42 metres.
What of the CN Tower now? It remains a popular tourist attraction (in part for its views, but also for EdgeWalk, its sky-high attraction for thrill-seekers) and an iconic form on Toronto’s skyline, but some experts, including a structural engineer who worked on the historic project, wonder if its existence is certain, especially as the price of land in the urban core surges.
Quadrangle, a local architecture and design firm, has imagined a way to renew the building’s cachet: turn it into the CN Tower condo, a residential building unlike any other in the city.
The firm has developed preliminary designs that see modular condo units, constructed from cross-laminated timber (CLT), affixed to the side of the tower. Made by laminating together pieces of spruce, pine or fir, CLT is making gains as a popular building material due to its versatility and a carbon footprint that’s much smaller than steel or concrete.
The lightness and strength of CLT would make it possible for the condo units to be attached to the CN Tower’s existing wings, a wind-shielding feature. CN Tower condo buyers could purchase made-to-order units in a diverse range of layouts and, because CLT buildings are produced in factories and simply snapped in place on site, construction would be quick.
Wind, of course, would be a challenge for these condo units, so Quandrangle is proposing that each pod be oriented vertically, to reduce how far the floor plates protrude. Staircases would create sharp diagonal cuts that create visually curious features in the units, which vary in size and result in dynamic shapes protruding from the tower’s profile.
The best part of the conceptual CN Tower condo: the views. Depending on their orientation, pods would have some of the city’s best vistas of the Lake Ontario or the city skyline.