Architectural Oddities and Loopy Landscaping Around Toronto
Toronto is home to some pretty strange houses and front lawns. And living around Dupont and Christie, I've had a chance to take a look at quite a number of them, clustered as they are in this area. I've often wondered, however, where else I could find such quirky architecture and/or laugh-inducing landscaping. Well, by combining the resource (read distraction) that is Google Street View with the recommendations of blogTO's followers on Twitter, my curiosity has been mostly satisfied. I've just taken a virtual tour of some of the weirdest properties in the city, and I thought I'd share the experience.
I don't know the stories behind most of these "projects," but a little digging revealed some interesting information about the ones in my neighbourhod. The infamous white elephant on Yarmouth Rd., for instance, was designed by Matt Donovan as part of his thesis project at OCAD, entitled "An Elephant in the Room." The sculpture was then given to James Lawson, a resident on the street. Although I'm constantly amazed that other residents haven't battled to have the elephant "put to rest," I have to say that having walked by it hundreds of times, it's really grown on me. I can't imagine the street without it.
Just around the corner to the west is another oddity. Known as the "House of Parashos," when I first moved into the area, I thought that it might be an oddly placed Greek restaurant. As it turns out, the house is resident Andy Parashos's ode to Greece, and is the result of years of work.
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Heading back toward the east, I was anxious to see the Street View capture of 473 Clinton St., a property covered with pool cues and other woodworks. Unfortunately, the foliage of the trees on the property covers much of homeowner Albino Carreira's work. For a closer look, check here.
Those unfamiliar with Mr. Carreira's house, might just have seen his minivan around town. Covered in figurines of all kinds, the white Plymouth Voyager resembles something of a moving art installation. Parked just up the street from Carreira's home on the day Google did its sweep, it's thankfully unobstructed and easy to zoom in on.
Believe it or not, all three of the above properties were the subject of an art exhibit curated by Duncan Farnan at the Harbourfront Centre a few years ago.
Moving away from my own area, my information about these oddball houses is less researched. I've heard that the cubes on Sumach St. are actually an occupied home, the architectural design of which was inspired by similar abodes throughout Rotterdam, but I've yet to confirm this.
The "doll house" at 44 Bertmount Ave. is also pretty fascinating, if not from an architectural standpoint (!).
Less gaudy, but still strange is 157 Coxwell Ave.
199 Gladstone Ave. is odd in a subtle sort of way.
The wacky homes at Leslie St. and Bond Ave. may have been around for a decade or so, but never cease to look strange to me. Rumour has it that an architect built the residences to live in himself (herself?), but perhaps someone out there has more details or accurate information.
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It's easy to make fun of these places, but at the end of the day, I firmly believe that they add an intriguing element to this city that it desperately needs. Thanks to our loyal followers on Twitter for so many good suggestions. And, of course, if you know of other wacky properties around town, leave a comment and I'll try to add to the post!
The tiny house at 36 Hanson St., courtesy of commenter, Mark.
The narrowest house in the city at 339 Shuter St., courtesy of commenter, the Beerad.
A strange, church-like structure at 78 Abbott Avenue, courtesy of commenter, Kevin.
A rival to the "House of Parashos" on Cedarcrest Blvd., courtesy of commenter, Rob
Here's a Twitter recommendation that I forgot. The house is located on Markham St. south of Dundas St. Are those stuffed animals in plastic bags?