Active Urban Dwelling:
Variations of Body and Space for Improved Well-Being

Designed for efficiency and economy, the design of apartment housing in Toronto has become repetitive, often leading our lived environments to lack spatial variation and limit how we use, and move, in space. This impairs the well-being of our minds and bodies as we slip into the ‘automatic’ -- increasing the risks of declines in our cognitive functioning, physical abilities, and life span. This thesis proposes and tests a new conception of mid-rise urban dwelling that is based around active lifestyles through physical and social engagement. Various scales are considered: that of private dwelling, shared clusters of spaces, shared building sites, and context and site as it integrates with the city. Findings of this thesis highlight that urban living can promote well-being through the use of affordances, proximities, and public and private gradients which create interstitial spaces between housing and the city.

The design project examines different scales which urban dwelling can engage the body and create a variety of space and use.

The design project examines 5 scales which urban dwelling can engage the body through private and shared living environments. These 5 scales are: 1. Private Dwelling, 2. Dwelling Shared, 3. Neighbourhood, 4. Building Shared, 5. Courtyard-City Connection. At the 5 scales, the design informs how active lifestyles can emerge through a new form of urban dwelling, through carefully considered proximities and relationships that create movement and variation. The form of the building affords greater daylighting conditions and access to light, air and views, however the housing blocks are grouped into “neighbourhoods” allowing smaller groups of people to connect and share -- creating meaningful relationships. By providing an outdoor semi-public gradient between the housing blocks, referred to as a ‘street’, active and social opportunities exist and provide a sense of comfort and choice to interact outside of the home, but between the home and the city. The courtyard further extends active opportunities of the home and allows for public interactions, access to green space and biophilia, and places to play, relax and exercise.

Toronto Metropolitan Department of  Architectural Science Toronto, CA.