8 madison avenue toronto

Toronto is getting a breathtaking new building shaped like a country

Toronto is home to a wide range of architectural styles, but a building shaped like a European nation has got to be a first for the city.

Construction is in full swing for the new KESKUS International Estonian Centre at 9 Madison Avenue, which will bring a unique country-shaped presence to the quiet block just northeast of Bloor and Spadina.

8 madison avenue toronto

Planned as a hub for the Estonian diaspora showcasing the country's culture, the building will wrap around an impressive courtyard that forms an outline of the Baltic state's shape.

8 madison avenue toronto

Designed by Kongats Architects, the 36,000 sq. ft. cultural hub will beckon passersby in with its Estonia-shaped courtyard, while also serving as a venue open to the public for performances, public lectures, and film festivals.

8 madison avenue toronto

Architect Alar Kongats describes the space as a reflection of "Estonians' connection to nature with greenery that can be enjoyed from every level," adding that "the courtyard space is also a way to give back to the city a vibrant haven that celebrates all things Estonian."

Features of the cultural centre include a bistro fronting the courtyard, offering an Estonian-inspired menu, community amenities like four classrooms hosting Estonian school classes, a 1,600 sq. ft. community room, a business centre, a rooftop garden, and a music room that can double as a meeting room.

8 madison avenue toronto

Aside from the centrepiece courtyard, the $41 million building's standout feature will be the Grand Hall, a 300-seat theatre-style space boasting an adjacent commercial catering kitchen for formal events.

8 madison avenue toronto

Construction for the new facility has been ongoing since 2022 courtesy of a $750,000 contribution from the Government of Canada through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario), and the new cultural hub's opening is currently projected for 2024.

However, as with the architecture, this is not your typical Toronto construction site.

The KESKUS site is situated on a former City-owned paid surface parking lot adjacent to the existing Estonian cultural centre. Unlike a standard parking lot redevelopment, below-grade construction is being done with particular care, as the work is occurring directly above a TTC Line 2 subway tunnel.

Before the new building can rise from its excavated pit, shallow foundation work, groundwater management, and, perhaps most notably, TTC tunnel remediation and waterproofing, must all be completed.

Photos by

Kongats Architects

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