Design & Heritage Conservation

Our Approach

What is Design & Heritage Conservation

Our practice takes on an approach where design and conservation go hand in hand. Places have no definitive beginning and end, and when we start working on a building, site, or space we are joining an ongoing conversation. 

We always recognize the wealth of what exists around us. Whether it is the ordinary, the mundane, or the extraordinary, we consider each with a value that must play into the process of design. We invest in the potential of these conditions. And we intend to find a means—through architecture—to reinvigorate these surroundings.

Architectural drawing of historic office

There is a lot of potential in what already exists. It is our curiosity and sleuthing that determines what that potential would offer. Almost always, it takes a second glance, sometimes a third.

This process recognizes the state of things as they are, records them, and attempts a cordial intervention. Sometimes the intervention is not required. And this may mean doing very little, or nothing at all—as close as architecture can get to doing nothing at all. However, a lot of the times interventions are needed.

exterior of a build showing large windows and exposed brick

our process

Architectural drawings of two sheds
Two Sheds


We are committed to ensuring projects are environmentally, socially, culturally, and economically sustainable. This is inherent in our approach to working with existing buildings. We start all projects with surveys that determine the value of the existing materials and embodied energy and ways in which they can be restored, reused, or leveraged to reduce waste. Our design process focuses on best practices that create efficient, functional, and flexible spaces that can adapt and change to user needs over time, reducing owner operational and maintenance overhead. By restoring the past and building well in the present, we create opportunity for architects of the future to continue this legacy of quality, resilient, and long-lasting structures.

Crowd standing in front of a UFO like concrete structure
The Oculus Walking Tour

Cultural Heritage

Whether a century old or newly constructed, all buildings tell a story. From who designed it, built it, lived in it, and used it, and how those answers change over time, these form the collective memory of a place. Our approach to heritage conservation looks at not only the physical features of a structure, but also the intangible attributes and cultural heritage. We see a lot of potential in expanding traditional conservation in creative ways, and highlighting the value of diverse, inclusive, and unique building narratives that represent people, community, and social values. We approach every project with a respectful open-mind, and then explore, discover, respond, modify, maintain, add, reactivate, re-value, and transform spaces.

Grey concrete highrise with colorful window panes
A Colourful Past at DesignTO 2021

Innovation & Stewardship

Recognizing that projects start within the context of our cities and the surrounding urban fabric, we approach each site as first an architectural caretaker – armed with an intimate knowledge of both the structure and local community. It is with this knowledge and understanding of a place that we are able to then expose a level of meaning for subsequent design. This requires sensitive and thoughtful consideration, coupled with close collaboration and open conversation with the client, stakeholders, and community, before any tactics are applied. The result is a reactive research and innovative design process, influenced by the interconnected social, environmental, and built layers of our cities.

An open arched window in a brick structure
Restoration at Sunday School Lofts


Architectural drawing of a midrise building

Our work is heavily influenced by research. Exploring past, present, and future ideas helps us bring a more holistic and strategic approach to all projects.