Welcome to Open Architecture Toronto! We are a not-for-profit architectural and design organization that connects industry professionals, students, and community leaders with the opportunity to make a difference through design across the Greater Toronto Area.

Our mission is to promote community awareness with series of educational events that bring together like-minded individuals and organizations with one common goal: to design sustainable solutions that meet the needs of our communities. We deliver these solutions by connecting with our stakeholders’ identities, values, and desires, and incorporate them into an innovative and socially responsible design.

The Toronto chapter has been providing the City of Toronto communities with socially responsible design services for over a decade and was incorporated as not-for-profit corporation, November 2017. We serve marginalized and underserved communities with local architects and designers in order to provide quality design solutions to those in need. Open Architecture Toronto believes good design can positively influence our wellbeing and that it should be available to all. Our aim is to educate designers and leaders to advocate for people centred designs. Designs that heals individuals, heals our communities; and becomes livable, sustainable, and healthy cities.

"OAC bridges design and humanitarianism together, creating a unique experience to collaborate with creative types and work on important community projects. My involvement with this team offered me the unique opportunity to work on a very meaningful international project and exposed me to new design approaches through discussion with the multi-disciplinary team. I am so glad to have been part of this positive organization." Volunteer - Andrew Taylor

  • Founded in 2003
  • 20+ active volunteers
  • 3 ongoing projects

Laneway Housing Event


OAC Toronto announced its incorporation as a not-for-profit with an educational event; looking at the topic, Laneway Housing: Social Opportunity. Toronto is facing a housing storage and things are expecting to get worse in the next few years. 


Our guest speakers from Lanescape, discussed in depth their implementation study of laneway suites and the benefits to help solve Toronto shortage and affordability housing crisis. The report address the current planning process, laneways precedents from other jurisdictions and provided a set of performance guidelines for laneway suite development. Such form of housing that is gaining popularity in Vancouver is typically built into pre-existing lots, usually in the backyard and opening onto the back lane. Our aim for this event is to educate the public on the initiative that being presented in City Hall to solve Toronto housing crisis.

  • Laneway Suite Report click here
  • The GTA grows at a rate of almost 100,000 residents per year
  • Toronto has has an estimate 2,400 laneways

Little Free Library


The Toronto chapter branches out to neighbouring Buffalo city to propose a Little Free Library design concepts to Buffalo Architecture Foundation that focus on low income community needs. It is estimated that there is only 1 book for every 300 children in low income neighborhoods and up to 61% of these families do not have any books for their kids at home. The Little Free Library movement promotes literacy and education among children and their families.

OAC Toronto design proposal for the Little Free Library was inspired by the treasure hunt game. The library not only promotes literacy adventure among children, but also reconnect Buffalo citizens with their city, its cultural landmarks, and neighborhoods.  Ten library were designed with the intention of each being placed adjacent to city’s tourist attractions and districts.  

Education and literacy are priority, and we are looking for practical, economical and sustainable solutions to bring more literature into families.

  • 5 Volunteers
  • 10 Notable Directs and Landmarks prototypes
  • Honorable Mention

Volunteer Day


On May 27 2017, Open Architecture Toronto participated in one of Habitat for Humanity's Adapt-A-Day program at the Pinery Trail site. The team learned how to insulate with fiberglass and vapor barrier and participated in quality control. It was a great experience and we look forward to adapt another day!  “It was great to see the project finishing up with a community launch. Being a part of something that has a positive impact on our local communities is one of our missions, so we are grateful to have been able to participate in the Adopt-a-day program.” Christine Lieu - Education & Event Manage

  • 3 years, 50 home project
  • 15 families in the first phase completed
  • 48 volunteer hours contributed

Community Center


In September 2015, the Toronto Chapter and Ryerson University AIAS Freedom by Design Toronto partnered to provide pro-bono design services to Scadding Court Community Centre. OACTO is acting as a consultant for the group and has assisted them in obtaining a client and organizing a design charette held to create interest in the project, brainstorm ideas, and used to form a team of dedicated designers who would continue the project afterwards. Part of Scadding Court Community Centre is Market 707, a retrofitted, outdoor shipping container street food and retail market located at the intersection of Bathurst and Dundas Street.

The scope of the Scadding Court project includes a master plan for the site to promote activity in the area to support the entrepreneurs, and the design of an adjacent parkette with community garden to support a local Women’s Residence. The scope of the Scadding Court project includes a master plan for the site to promote activity in the area to support the entrepreneurs, and the design of an adjacent parkette with community garden to support a local Women’s Residence.  

  • Ongoing Project
  • 32 Participants in Design Charrette
  • 8 Volunteers In Final Design

Samo Solutions

Samo Solutions is a one storey low-cost housing project in Kismayo, Somalia. The focus of the project is to create a housing prototype which is easy to construct and creative in design. The prototypes will be constructed of Samo Earth Blocks and will house IDPs and refugees in Somalia who are currently living in refugee camps but who need permanent housing which addresses the issues of safety, privacy, and sustainability.

  • 1,113,000 Internally Displaced Persons in Somalia (2015)
  • 7 Volunteers in Design Team
  • 10 Units involved in pilot phase

Life Corps

The Toronto chapter hosted an architectural ideas competition to explore the future development potential of LifeCorps Food Share in York Region. LifeCorps Food Share is York Region’s food hub and the only agency that can safely collect and transport fresh, frozen and dry foods to 40 agencies in the region. The ideas competition seeked inspiration for a future stand-alone building that would house LifeCorps programs: Farmers Markets, classrooms, rooftop community gardens, a community food bank, and employment training space. The ideas and images from the competition will be instrumental in gaining funding and support from potential stakeholders while also reflecting thoughtful consideration into combatting food insecurity in York Region.

  • 6 Countries that submitted proposals
  • $1000 (CAD) Total award money

Vertical Neighborhoods

On May 3rd, 2014, the Toronto Chapter in partnership with Europe-based architect Filipe Balestra held a lecture and workshop: “Incremental Strategy for Vertical Neighborhoods in Toronto”. The event was dedicated to local Thorncliffe Park, as we seized the opportunity of the establishment of a new zoning type: Residential Apartment Commercial (RAC) – a new zoning by-law provides a new and flexible land-use framework for Apartment Neighbourhoods. The design charette was unique in that 2d and 3d drawings were not the product, but physical models of the teams’ incremental proposals located on a premade massive model of the site at Thorncliffe Park. Towards the end of the day, a final and formal discussion took place with representatives of the Thorncliffe community and other professionals engaged in Toronto’s Tower Renewal process.

“Proposals not only answered the question of consolidating multiple programs and acquiring building materials, but also creating activity hubs and making communities safer and more inclusive.” Jennifer Whelan, ArchDaily

  • 1 Workshop
  • 1 Lecture
  • 30+ Participants