Cold comforts | National Post

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Victorians understood the therapeutic benefit of seaside air and, thanks to a crafty invention, discovered a way to extend their time outdoors when colder weather arrived: the Strandkorb, or “beach basket” in German, was an innovative beach chair fashioned in 1882 for a rheumatism-stricken aristocrat, Elfriede von Maltzahn.


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Because of its hooded design, the elderly gent could lounge seaside in inclement weather at his favourite German resort.

Today that humble woven seat is the inspiration behind a luxurious, winter-friendly feature at the Toronto condominium One Delisle.

Designed by the Chicago-based architect Jeanne Gang of Studio Gang, the striking spiralled midtown building has private penthouse loggias where residents can sit out on frosty days.

The generously sized rooms, some as large as 14 by 10 feet, replace traditional balconies. They feature wind-defying stone-like walls, with a section that’s open to the air.

“When [Jeanne] designed the condominium, she adopted the same logic of the Strandkorb beach chair that is still used on the beaches of Northern Europe,” says Brandon Donnelly, managing director of development at Slate Asset Management, the developer behind One Delisle.


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“There’s this debate in Toronto about outdoor spaces in high-rises and whether we should be designing them,” says Donnelly. “People complain you get up 30, 40 storeys and these spaces are windswept and [un]usable. Maybe they’re not designed the right way. We take the approach that they should be used.”

“The outdoor loggia spaces are unique for each of our eight penthouse suites and have upgraded materials,” he says. The penthouses in question comprise the top three floors of the building.

“People can add a hot tub to them,” he notes. They’ve been engineered to withstand the weight.

Modelled after Japanese-style onsen, the tubs, integrated into the loggia by earthy stone pavers, can be soaked in as it snows with a view of panoramic city views over the occupant’s toes.


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Having terraces and balconies, let alone tricked-out ones, is “rare in a high-rise building,” notes Donnelly.

But it was a key driver of the project. “This building was designed well before COVID but proved to be especially important during lockdown when people are craving the outdoors,” he says.

The same goes for Sunray Group’s Carriage Country Club, another development where winter-friendly amenities were a key part of the plan. Located 15 minutes from Barrie, the turnkey townhomes that range from 1,200 to 1,400 square feet and start in the $500,000s are ready for move-in.

The project encompasses more than 30 acres at the top of Horseshoe Valley, according to a spokesperson for the project.

“There is access to the ski hills of Horseshoe Resort, where owners can ski down the hill and get their tickets, and then at the end of the day take the ski lift up to Carriage Country Club as a ski in/ski out [experience].”


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Walking and snowshoe trails, meanwhile, encourage homeowners to set aside their digital devices and focus on nature. They can also huddle around firepits installed throughout the grounds, then scoot indoors for a soak in the hot tubs.

After walking the snowshoe trails that skirt the 30-acre Carriage Country Club, just outside of Barrie, residents can huddle around firepits situated throughout the grounds.
After walking the snowshoe trails that skirt the 30-acre Carriage Country Club, just outside of Barrie, residents can huddle around firepits situated throughout the grounds. Photo by COURTESY OF SUNRAY GROUP

Back in Toronto, future occupants at Natasha The Residences – a design-forward 47-storey condo rising at 263 Adelaide St., by Lanterra Developments – can experience a similar scene, minus the skiing.

On cool nights, residents can warm up on a wraparound terrace with a dramatic circular pergola. “The roaring fire pit brings people together,” says Alessandro Munge, the principal designer of Studio Munge.

It’s all about the social experience, says Munge. Where once a condo denizen popped outside for a smoke or a breath of fresh air, today’s winter amenities aim to be both an extension of a resident’s suite and a way to socialize with the neighbours.


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“There is a real sense of belonging that will come from sharing social amenities,” says Munge. “It is very much about celebrating life and the pleasure that comes from entertaining and being together.”

The addition of cold-weather amenities continues at the just-launched XO2 Condos by Lifetime Developments. Set for King and Dufferin, next to Liberty Village, this is the second tower in the project.

“Over the last few years we have seen consumer demand change significantly as a result of the pandemic,” says Brian Brown, principal of Lifetime Developments.

“Buildings that focus on healthy living and healthy lifestyles are now becoming far more appreciated,” says Brown. “This change in consumer perspective has led us to relook at a number of our building amenities, especially our outdoor spaces.”


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At XO2, they were designed to include both active and relaxing zones, says Brown. “As a result we have dining and lounge areas with multiple barbecue zones and also fire pits, a bocce court, a rooftop parkette and a children’s play area.”

Fire pits at The Buckingham in Grand Central Mimico can be used in the winter.
Fire pits at The Buckingham in Grand Central Mimico can be used in the winter. Photo by COURTESY OF VANDYK PROPERTIES

Similarly, at The Buckingham in Grand Central Mimico, 11,000 square feet of outdoor space is meant to feel like “a backyard for people to enjoy, socialize and unwind in,” says John Vandyk, president and CEO of Vandyk Properties.

For each of The Buckingham’s three towers, a terrace features multiple lounge areas with fire pits where, Vandyk says, “residents can enjoy the outdoors year-round.”

An outdoor residents’ lounge with multiple firepits and fireplaces is also a feature of Altree Developments’ Forest Hill Private Residences. Private terraces can also include firepits, depending on the purchaser’s preference.


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“[There’s] immense value in having year-round outdoor amenity space, especially in a post-pandemic world,” says Jordan Debrincat, vice-president of Altree Developments.

  A good old-fashioned Canadian skating rink is the answer to the winter blues at the ME Living master-planned community build. The Scarborough condominiums, located at Markham and Ellesmere, were developed by the Lash Group of Companies.

The courtyard on the property features a reflecting pool topped with a footbridge. In late fall, the maintenance team moves the bridge and the pond transforms into a skating rink for residents. There’s even a mini Zamboni that keeps the ice in tiptop shape.

It may not be the same as a seaside getaway, but anything’s better than being stuck inside until spring arrives.



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