JAPANESE DESIGN GETS A
A retreat that exudes a sense of calmness, and caters to the wellbeing of the mind, body and soul is how
Dominic De Freitas of Figure3 describes The Saint – an upcoming condo development in Toronto’s bustling
St. Lawrence Market neighbourhood.
“Once the project is complete and home owners have moved in, we want them to feel relaxed and comfortable –
like they are living in a retreat or oasis even though it is located in the downtown core,” says De Freitas.
To achieve that calm and collected aesthetic, the team took cues from Japanese architecture and design to explore
its natural materials, symmetrical lines, horizontal and vertical patterning, texture, light and “curated” views
through techniques of screening and reveal.
“When it comes to traditional Japanese design, it’s rather simple,” explains De Freitas, who says that his trip
to the East Asian country changed the way he looked at Japanese design. “There’s an organic element to the
design but the architecture for the most part is inorganic.”
For The Saint, the style has been captured in a modern and contemporary way, while tying back to the project’s
overall motivation to promote the wellness aspect of healthy living. For this project, De Freitas also experimented
with the use of scale as well as monolithic tiling which are prominent elements in Japanese design.
Before you enter into the main double-height lobby, a wall made up of smaller slates of stone appears to look like
one oversized textured art piece from outside. In front of the stone wall, traditional Japanese wooden doors have
been translated into screens and lit from behind to create a layered look to emphasize the wood panels.
“We want home owners to feel relaxed
and comfortable – like they are living
in a retreat or oasis.”
“This was done so that when a person is in a tall ceiling space and transiting through that space, there’s a sense of
grandeur they experience,” says De Freitas, who believes that setting the right mood, especially here where wellness
is priority, is crucial.
“Mood for me as a designer is created through the use of light and shadow,” he says.
The wellness centre, located on the third floor, features rooms with individual soaking tubs positioned in front of an
expansive window covered in vertical wood slatting.
“I love the idea that through this vertical slatting, the lighting always has a slightly different type of feel depending
on the time of day,” says De Freitas.
Similar wood slatting can also be seen from the serene double-height lounge, which connects the wellness centre
with the fully equipped fitness centre located on the fourth floor. Traditional Japanese zen gardens are featured
here, along with a floor-to-ceiling window that has been designed as a shoji screen made from wood and Japanese
rice paper. This allows for natural light to come in and filter through that screen during the day while at night, LED
lights tucked behind the frame illuminate the space.
In the wellness centre, incorporating water elements was vital to achieving the essence of a spa. There’s a communal
rain chromotherapy room which combines light and colour to provide healing to the body. The meditation room
features a salt rock wall which releases salt into the air as an added benefit of healing properties.
While the health and wellness features offer a more intimate experience, incorporating social amenities into the
design adds a nice counterbalance to the building. On the rooftop, the social spaces include a dining area and a
multi-functional party room designed with modularity and compartmentalization, which can be reconfigured for
the function taking place. The outdoor terrace features quiet zones and more active, socialising areas while the
co-working space has been married with a lounge complete with a bar. To keep the design cohesive throughout
the different levels of amenities, materials such as natural wood combined with stone, slate and
concrete have been re-introduced here.
“It’s very simplistic in nature but we’ve accented it with refined sophisticated screens that delineate the activities
while keeping the space open and communal,” explains De Freitas.
With a mindful approach to everyday life, The Saint possesses a refined, simplicity that exudes a welcoming and
rejuvenating experience to those who will live here, as well as guests visiting.
“Figure3 enriched our vision for the community and their thoughtful design approach is exemplary,” says Matt
Brown of Minto Communities. “We’re proud for The Saint to be recognized as one of Toronto’s most anticipated
residential living experiences.”