Toronto Through My Lens

The Cube House

I’ve known about the so-called “Cube House” for several years and have always wanted to get some shots of it. I finally paid a visit to the building this past weekend.

The Cube House is located at 1 Sumach Street beside the busy Adelaide Street East and Richmond Street East overpasses, which is kind of an odd location. Sumach Street is strangely laid out near the Cube House – it ends in a stubby dead end with a second Sumach Street running parallel to the first, then the two streets pick up as one on the north side of the Richmond Street East overpass:

I remember the Cube House being very popular years ago during the Doors Open Toronto events. Sadly, this unique piece of Toronto architecture is now abandoned and derelict. This being Toronto, where we don’t preserve our past or any interesting structures, there is a move to demolish the building to construct – wait for it – more condos.

The Cube House was built in 1996 by Canadian architect Ben Kutner and his partner Jeff Brown. When the architects designed their cube home, they modelled it after Dutch architect Piet Blom’s cube houses in Rotterdam which were built in the 1970s:

Piet Blom’s cube houses in Rotterdam, Netherlands
This photo courtesy of blogto.com

The Canadian architects intended to use the home as a solution for affordable housing on unusable parcels of land and originally planned to construct more. The architects envisioned that the Cube House would be moved around to different locations across its lifespan rather than permanently staying in its current location.

I found some interesting facts about the Cube House:

  • It took architect Ben Kutner 10 years to get permission from the city to get the plans approved.
  • The ownership of the property became a legal battle for over a year because the cubes were built on land that was not owned by the architect. As a result, the cubes were deemed the property of the landowner.
  • Eventually, in the early 2000s, the land and structure were sold to Coffee Time founder Tom Michalopoulos for $265,000; he utilized the cubes as billboards for his coffee business.

In May 2016, the property was purchased by commercial real estate expert Taso Boussoulas and real estate developer Jeff Craig for $2,750,000.

I’m glad I got these shots when I did; the Cube House’s future is very uncertain. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens to it down the road.

6 Comments

  1. David

    An interesting structure for sure! I wish I could have seen the inside.

  2. Despina

    Wow that’s really interesting Marvin, I never knew the history of it. Of course I have driven past it multiple times and it looks kind of lonely there, and too bad they are thinking of demolishing it. If the architects had built a row of cubed houses then the city may have thought twice about demolishing it. I don’t see the city demolishing the group of painted ladies houses on Woodbine and Lakeshore. The Beachers would declare war.

    • Marvin Job

      Ah, the Painted Ladies. Thanks for mentioning this – you’ve given me some inspiration for a future post!

      • Despina

        In the summer when the sun is setting it looks like Provence. Let me know when you need access!

  3. Gail Ferguson

    Great photos and thanks for the background information about this unique construction in Toronto. I wonder if anyone actually lived in it and what the interior was like? Our kids went to nearby Inglenook Secondary School and the Cube House was a cool part of an interesting neighbourhood.

    • Marvin Job

      Thank you so much for leaving your comments! While researching the Cube House I came upon this site which has a couple of shots of the inside here. Apparently the house’s most recent occupant was a CBC television producer.

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