Back in May, we were part of Q&A Letterbox's stationery subscription. It's so dreamy if you're a paper lover. Check them out! Q&A Letterbox asked me "Who are some of your favourite Canadian Designers/Artists?". You'd expect me to give a typical Graphic Designer response like Marian Bantjes (who is also fabulous - huge fan), but I didn't hesitate in saying Claude Cormier.
Claude Cormier is a Montreal based Landscape Architect and Urban Designer, amongst other unofficial titles. His work is fascinating and multidisciplinary, graphic and playful. An example that good, accessible design prevails when you can stand behind your concept and cut through bureaucracy. Claude and his team are very familiar with that.
The projects transform neighbourhoods and landscapes through introducing happy spaces for everyone to enjoy and take pride in. Want to watch a video to learn more? Check out this Vimeo on the topic of Happy Design.
It's distinct, and lucky for us, Toronto just happens to have some of the best examples of his work. His work is seen throughout the world and internationally acclaimed. In this post, I'll take you through a brief tour of Claude Cormier projects that you may already know quite well if you're from or have spent some time in Toronto, but will come to appreciate even more.
Within each project, we navigate webs of political, environmental, historical, social, and economic entanglements, seeking to extract a simple, clear idea that encapsulates it all. Once this single concept is identified, we meticulously unfold it to guide all aspects of the project, from global organization to the finest construction detail. This results in complex, consistent environments that communicate loudly and clearly. We believe that a bold landscape image can brand a company, define the identity of a city, or simply entice passers-by to take a closer look.
FOUR SEASONS HOTEL AND RESIDENCES - Bay Street in Yorkville
First up, you might recognize this space in Yorkville which is inspired by the Victorian era and homes in the neighbourhood. You'll see playful ways in which they depicted icons like an urban rug, a "traditional" cast iron fountain and a rose-less rose garden.
"Known for its nineteenth century Victorian houses, Toronto’s historic Yorkville neighbourhood is poised for the new millennium with the arrival of a metropolitan scale skyscraper and world-class hotel, The Four Seasons. The contradiction between these two eras and scales is reconciled in the landscape, where stylistic elements from the former period are amplified to fit modern day perceptions."
Next, we'll visit Toronto's ever-changing waterfront. Claude has designed two fun and very engaging, if not iconic, Toronto spaces.
HTO was the first to be completed with a landscape that gently slopes up and away from the city and down to the lake where you'll find a restful urban oasis.
HTO - Toronto Waterfront
"HTO reveals, honours, and celebrates Lake Ontario, source of the identity and cultural expression of Canada’s largest city. We developed an urban beach that encourages residents and visitors to rediscover the water, luring them from the hustle and bustle of the city. The atmosphere: a modern re-enactment of Seurat’s Un dimanche après-midi à l’Ile de la Grande Jatte (1884-1886), with its bright colours, play of light and shadows, and sense of peaceful refuge."
Head a bit further east and you'll find the loveable Sugar Beach. This is a sequel to HTO, but pulls it's inspiration directly from it's surroundings and neighbour the Redpath sugar factory.
SUGAR BEACH - Toronto Waterfront
"Tinted by sugar spray carried on westerly breezes from the neighbouring Redpath Sugar Factory, a series of hard rock candies with coloured stripes and dozens of pink umbrellas are scattered across a sandy wedge of beach along the Jarvis Slip. Integrating the future Waterfront Promenade, along with a plaza for programmed and unprogrammed events, the design playfully adopts some of the most enduring elements from Toronto’s emerging landscape identity — beaches, bedrock, trees, and water — as well as the urban horizon and a trace of the city’s past industrial mood."
In Toronto's Don Valley you'll find the environmentally based community centre, Evergreen Brickworks. It's one of my favourite places in the city. It's hidden away, but accessible, immersed and engaged with its natural surroundings and pays homage to its gritty industrial background. All, while being a welcome and whimsical place.
EVERGREEN BRICKWORKS - Don Valley
"Our conceptual approach focuses on the transformation of this post-industrial ruin into a “green” site. Seeking to transcend the overused term “sustainability,” the proposal emphasizes the idea of trajectories of movement through the site – of water, cars, electricity, trains, and wildlife. The plan addresses a need for higher site porosity as a means to create a free-flowing system of sustainable components in, around, and through the area.
That concludes the Toronto tour. There are MANY projects still in the works by Claude Cormier and Associes. You'll see them emerge as the city transforms over the years including Berczy Park behind the Flatiron building, Garrison Point and additional waterfront spaces.
Watch for another post with projects featured from Montreal, including my two favourite (seen above) Lipstick Forest + Les Boules Rose (Photos by Claude Cormier + Associes).