Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Architecture: Combining New and Old

architecture: combining new with old, history and new ideas for evolution and growth, by wobuilt.comPhoto-collage: Architecture: Combining New with Old
Acknowledge the history of the place +
Impose new ideas for evolution and growth
2011 @

Cities grow, evolve and combining the new with the old in the same area will acknowledge the history of the place. Projects that pay homage to the existing fabric of a space, but also incorporate new architecture would be my ideal.
I have asked myself recently which commercial/non-residential projects I ideally would like to secure for Wo-Built. Projects that pay homage to the existing, but also incorporate new architecture would be my ideal. The choice has a lot to do with my attitude to city planning and architecture which started to be formed during my visits to Berlin in the late 1980's.

I fully embraced the West Berlin’s attitude to architecture. To build something new at that time meant that the old had to be torn down. This thinking gave way to some amazing projects by international architects, Zaha Hadid, Giorgio Grassi, Rob Krie, Peter Eisenmann, Peter Cook + Christine Hawley with Hinrich & Inken Baller, Aldo Rossi. West Berlin was a show piece and it was certainly showing off. Walking around was very exciting. Ever so often an interesting piece of architecture occupied a space in between the older buildings. Not trying to fit in, just standing on its own merits. Even today I like the idea to see new and architecturally exciting modern non matching infill buildings in the fabric of a city.

When I returned to the unified Berlin in the early 2000's and I was both amazed and bit disappointed at the transformation of the previous East Berlin. In the 1980's only a handful of buildings had been restored most likely due to cost and a lot of emphasis had been made on building monumental socialist's housing projects after the war. After reunification this area saw an enormous amount of new and modern buildings in some areas, but many historical buildings and whole streets were rebuilt (of course modernized) the same way as they were before the Second World War.

Berlin was an architecturally splendid city before the war and one can understand the desire to rebuild it as it was. But this was an opportunity missed. Thinking about it philosophically, combining new and old allows opportunity to acknowledge the fabric of the city as it was and to impose new ideas for evolution and growth. I felt at the time that effectively 45 years of memory were eradicated. Cities grow, evolve and combining the new with the old in the same area will acknowledge the history of the place.

We have great examples of this in Toronto. The Michael Lee Chin Crystal (Renaissance ROM, the Royal Ontario Museum's renovation and expansion project) by Daniel Libeskind, and Frank Geary’s extension to the Art Gallery of Ontario (Transformation AGO: New Building) to name a few of civic scale. On a smaller scale a new site of the police station at 2054 Davenport Road which also uses an existing building as part of the new design. We also have some bold infill buildings like the co-operative residential building at 60 Richmond Street East, but we need more building initiatives that either combine the old fabric with the new or boldly insert themselves into the existing fabric of the city at the same scale.

We would love to take part in the evolution of Toronto cityscape combining old with new.

Martina Ernst
Wo-Built Inc. - Innovative Design and Build

links: Berlin IBA Architecture, Germany : Information
Internationales Bau Ausstellung : Architecture in German Capital Pug Awards: Housing Co-op and Royal Conservatory come out on top
by Kristen Smith Jun 17, 2010 Michael Lee-Chin Crystal The New AGO: Frank Gehry's Redesign 11 Division - new site
The architect selected for this project is Stantec Architecture Limited, Architects.
The construction management service chosen is Eastern Construction Company Limited.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Our Anime PR Avatar WoBinna First Anniversary

Construction company avatar WoBinna first anniversary, by wo-built inc.Collage: Our Anime WoBinna Is Turning One
2011 @

WoBinna and Friends – Happy Birthday - Our anime is turning one.

It has been a year since WoBinna and her friends came onto the scene and helped us to promote Wo-Built’s mission of encouraging young women to consider the building trades as a career. We had great fun bringing you stories where WoBinna shares her design and building experiences and her love for the building trades.

WoBinna is based on the collective experiences of the Wo-Built team, our experiences on site and life, even our aspirations when we were children.

My own personal favourites are: “A fabulous doll house” and the follow-up “A star is built”, “A summer job project like no other” , and "Class assignment" with a petroleum pelican getting the green message out.

Enjoy!!!! For more stories: and

We wanted WoBinna’s stories to be humorous and interesting to encourage debate about the trades amongst young people and hopefully plant a seed to consider the building trades an alternative career. The building trades face a crisis in the next few years as more and more qualified trades people will retire. The industry has not managed to inspire a lot of interest in young people to do apprenticeships and WoBinna is our attempt to engage them in discussions.

I grew up with sophisticated comics, such as Asterix and Obelix by René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo; and I have always liked animation. When I first envisaged WoBinna three years ago I had an Archibald "Archie" Andrews’ look and feel in mind, created by Vic Bloom and Bob Montana; mainly because this comic deals with teenagers. But recently I have been intrigued by the Japanese based manga style and I believe WoBinna would do well in this genre. Much more hip and fun, more contemporary. So look out for a change in WoBinna again - another make over is on the way.

We want to spread the news about WoBinna much more than we have and we need your help!!! We invite everyone to share WoBinna’s stories with their friends, schools and anyone who would like to start career discussions with young people. Or just share the stories, because you love them.

Martina Ernst
Wo-Built Inc. - Innovative Design and Build

Young Blond Female Anime Avatar
Credit: MS Office Clipart - MC900440373

Links to some other WoBinna & Friends comic strips:
Wobinna and Friends: Built a Fabulous Lemonade Stand
Wobinna and Friends: The Joys of Shop Class!
A Home Reno: Inspired by Piet Mondrian
A Home Reno: Finishing Touches

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Plan and Start Your Renovation Now

Spring Is Renewal Time, photos by wobuiltPhoto-collage: Spring Is Renewal Time
2011 @

Call to Action: Spring Is Renewal Time – Plan and Start Your Renovation Now!

Spring is our favourite time of year. Trees and shrubs get new leaves, perennials grow out of the ground and there is a general sense of renewal, of new life and new beginnings. It is also the time to loose the doldrums, the dull, listless, depressed mood and low spirits that stagnate out thinking and actions during the winter months. Personally we feel more energetic during this time and some of our best ideas in the past were conceived in this period. We think spring is a great time to design a new house, an addition or just plan a renovation.

The same sense for renewal is for homes. Spring traditionally is the time for cleaning. Colder climate probably prohibited a proper cleaning during the winter months and once the temperatures became warmer cloth and bedding could be dried out, dusting could be done before large amount of insects hatched and the house could be properly aired.

Though our heating and ventilation technologies have long superseded this thinking the traditions have survived and we still make more decisions for the home in the spring than during the winter months. Renovations are also more likely to start in the spring even though internal building work can be done during the winter. We still like to open windows for ventilation to let the dust out.

Our advice: take the new energy you have; your sense of renewal and channel it to plan or initiate the home renovations you wanted to do for months or even years. If you are planning a large renovation with a lot of external work you have to bear in mind that the construction period in Canada is relatively short. But if you are stuck and need ideas deciding what to do we can help. Call us 416-402-2679.

Wo-Built's Team
Wo-Built Inc. - Innovative Design and Build

wobuilt: What Do These Three Renovation Projects Have In Common?

wobuilt: Kitchen Designs – Are We Missing the Boat?

wobuilt: Top Renovations That Increase Home Value

Thursday, 14 April 2011

New Features: Flash Video & Social Media Buttons in Our Website

general contractors toronto, wo-built design and build construction companyCollage: Wo-Built Website Updates: General Contractors
Specializing in Boutique, Green, Commercial Projects
2011 @

We are busy now to put more information and updates on our website.

There are a couple of things need to be fixed. Well, it's a work in progress and the website will continually be updated with information on our new projects.
General Contractors Specializing in Boutique, Green, Commercial Projects

At Wo-Built we have developed unique assessment processes to realize the vision of your home or commercial space. In both cases our assessment will determine your needs and wants and the best way to achieve them.

As boutique home builders we are experts at designing and building additions, extensions and large renovations. For commercial projects our team of business, financial and construction professionals will be able to determine the viability of any project and bring it to a successful conclusion.

Our designs are all about the space, the light and the environmental comfort using green design where possible. We look for innovative ways to create interesting spaces for comfortable living and in the case of commercial buildings increased brand value for companies.

Based in Toronto, we have completed design and built projects throughout the Greater Toronto Area. We offer a complimentary "Dream House" Assessment or our Assessment for Business Premises in this area.

Our company is based on social missions, one is helping and mentoring women succeed in the construction industry.

Click here for our complimentary "Dream House" Assessment or our Assessment for Business Premises or contact us on (416) 402-2679.

Please take a look at how you can browse our website in a new way.

Wo-Built Inc. - Who We Are

Wo-Built's New Flash Video
Who We Are: Residential, Commercial,
Community & Affordable Housing, WoBinna,
Our Social Mission, Women in Trades,
Training & Mentoring for Women, Green Solutions

Please follow us on:

Wo-Built: Welcome to Our Newly Designed Website!

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Transparency. What Does This Have to Do with Renovation?

transparency, integrity, social responsibility Illustration: Transparency, Integrity, Social Responsibility
Credit: MS Office ClipArt MC900231444
We recently asked one of our large project clients why they hired us and what made us stand out from the others, and he answer was "transparency". Our clients did a lot of planning and research before they even began to interview contractors. When Wo-Built had our first session with them, they had already met with contractors and received several various quotes.

We were speaking with them a short while ago and asked why Wo-Built? What struck them was that we did not embellish any facts, we did not talk down to them, we were straight forward with what would happen and our estimate was detailed enough to show where the money would be spent.

Also when we were asked to reduce the budget we were able to have a logical discussion about what areas of the design would be compromised and what could be cut in order to help them manage their costs. As a result, it came back to transparency and honesty.

According to Wikipedia transparent behaviour implies openness, communication, and accountability. For us this transparency is not limited to financial matters even though this is a large part of it. Financial transparency inspires trust; nothing is hidden. We have a policy of open book; this means the client can see what we pay. But operational transparency is also important to us. By that we mean that we make the client aware of the implications of any decisions, anticipate possible problems and have good communication.

So, here is what our clients had to say about their experience renovating with us:
"By the time John and I met with Wo-Built we had looked at quite a few quotes. As soon as we saw the itemized, detailed quote from Wo-Built we immediately felt relief. Not one other contractor had provided us with such level of detail, and while we met with some really great companies, the difference with the Wo-Built approach was significant for us. In one case where we asked a contractor to give us a second quote, bringing the costs down, he came back with a quote that was $30,000.00 lower but couldn’t articulate to us what did that mean in terms of our original design for the house.

With Wo-Built’s second quote, John and I could see exactly what the impact of the reduced budget would be and gave us the opportunity to rationally decide what we could live with in terms of design change and what was really important to us. After hiring Wo-Built, the transparency continued throughout the project. Every invoice had all the details, including the holdback portion, so we always knew how much we were spending, could track it against the original budget and understood what money we needed to keep for the end of the project.

Ultimately John and I got the home of our dreams and never regretted any of the budget decisions that we made along the way because we had the opportunity to make informed decisions. We both believe this was directly attributable to the transparent way in which we received all of our information and communication from Wo-Built.

Carla Ciallella"

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Corso Italia: Keeping the Neighbourhood Beautiful

Clean Toronto Together: Corso Italia April 7, 2011 by, photos: Olga Goubar

Photo Collage: Clean Toronto Together Initiative
Corso Italia Toronto Ward 17, April 7, 2011
2011 @

"The City of Toronto wants to eliminate graffiti from city buildings and infrastructure as well as private property. By doing so, the City will be cleaner and more vibrant and it will make Toronto a more attractive place for everyone." Graffiti Management Program

Today Mayor Rob Ford was at Corso Italia as part of the City’s Clean Toronto Together campaign.

I was late arriving so I didn’t see him remove some graffiti from an alley on St. Clair Avenue West, but there is a great photo of him in the National Post. This is one of the City’s clean-up initiatives prior to Earth Day, April 22nd.

My own personal view about graffiti (from the Italian word graffiato: scratched) is somewhat ambiguous. I have seen some graffiti that I find interesting and would happily call art. But most graffiti holds very little merit as they are simple tags or identification marks. Of course the biggest crime for a property owner is that it is done without permission and is therefore an act of vandalism.

Today, graffiti is associated with lifestyles that remain hidden from view, gang activities and has a feel of the unsavory. Therefore, presently most graffiti unfortunately give areas a run down, unsafe and impoverished atmosphere and this can impact prospective customers, who might not want to visit. If graffiti was done legally with the permission of the property owners as a mural or decorative art it could actually benefit an area and make it unique and help it to be come a destination for visitors.

As a member of the Corso Italia BIA we are much in favour of keeping the area nice; and as mentioned above most graffiti unfortunately does not enhance buildings. It needs to be dealt with in a comprehensive manner and will have to involve many parties from the City and the community.

Why would we care about the area and why are we a staunch advocate that graffiti has to be dealt with either by introducing art or through clean-up? Well, it is all about our branding, our prospective innovative projects and our being active in the community. We are a design and build company, with emphasis on boutique, good value, excellence and affordability, but looking for the wow factor in each project. Our office location has to reinforce this image.

Corso Italia is an area that has a lot of boutiques selling Italian designed clothes, shoes and is still family orientated. It is very much a traditional high street with lots of quality shops. Simple tag graffiti does look out of place and diminishes the area, however, murals and decorative art that is following a larger plan for the area would likely add interest. The same way, it is important for us to maintain an image, it is important for Corso Italia. As long as it is family orientated, customers have to feel comfortable when here. Most street level shops rely heavily on walk-in traffic and would suffer greatly if customers stayed away.

As for the wall the mayor cleaned – there is a lot more to come, possibly a mural, hopefully from a design by a local Corso Italia artist.

Martina Ernst
Wo-Built Inc. - Innovative Design and Build

wobuilt's blog: Building the Friendship of Neighbours in Business

wobuilt's blog: Our New Location Is at the Vibrant Corso Italia Neighborhood

wobuilt's blog: Wo-Built Inc. Is on the Move!

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Toronto Green Living Show: Go Green and Go Free

Toronto Green Living Show – April 15-17, 2011

Green Living Show – April 15-17, 2011
Direct Energy Centre @ Exhibition Place, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Being eco friendly and green we would like to inform you about upcoming Toronto Green Living Show 2011 this April 15 - 17 at the Direct Energy Centre @ Exhibition Place. There will be a Green Business Forum, a Kids Zone, Youth Day Events, a Canadian Living Cooking Stage, a Farm Fresh Fare, the Green Toronto Awards, etc.
Attendees to the Green Living Show can receive FREE admission by recycling electronic waste at the Show compliments of Samsung.

Go Green and Go Free: E-Waste Provides Complimentary Admission to Green Living Show

Samsung Electronics provides free admission to Green Living Show visitors that bring e-waste to event

TORONTO, April 5 /CNW/ - Got an old TV or computer monitor lying around at home? If so, look no further. Head down to Toronto's Green Living Show between April 15 - 17 at the Direct Energy Centre at Toronto's Exhibition Place and receive complimentary admittance on behalf of Samsung Electronics Canada, one of the show's presenting sponsors.

A long-time supporter of green initiatives, Samsung's involvement in e-waste management is part of the company's ongoing commitment to providing Canadians with sustainable and eco-friendly options in the disposal of electronic items that they no longer need.

"For the past two years, Samsung has stepped up to the plate to provide an incentive for Canadians to dispose of their electronic items in an eco-friendly manner that is safe for the environment," said Matt Weiner, Marketing Manager, Samsung Electronics Canada. "This year's Green Living Show is a great opportunity to both consider the message behind the show and promote a more sustainable way of living through safer electronics disposal."

E-waste brought in by visitors to the Green Living how will be recycled at one of Samsung's Recycling Direct™ depots located throughout Canada and facilitated by Global Electric Electronic Processing (GEEP). GEEP collects e-waste and recycles it in the most ecologically responsible manner, foregoing incineration, solid waste landfills or the exporting of toxic waste to developing countries.

"Samsung is thrilled to be able to continue the drive towards a safer and healthier environment," said Matt Weiner. "E-waste disposal is just one way that many of us can do our part in reducing the electronic items that are bound for landfills."

For the fifth year in a row, The Green Living Show will allow visitors to stroll through the 80,000 square feet of exhibit space and visit over 400 "green screened" exhibitors and feature attractions, including an exciting array of speakers on the Main Stage. For more details on the show and participating exhibitors, please visit:

To learn more about Samsung's Recycling Direct initiative and where to recycle your e-waste, visit


Wo-Built at the Home Show with Green Presentation

Being Green, Building Green Design and Construction Company

Going Green in the City: Building and Renovating with "Being Green" in Mind:
Part 1 - Eco-Friendly Home Improvements
Part 2 - Going Green Is Becoming Mainstream
Part 3 - Living Rooftops - An Environmental Alternative for "Green" Building

Eco Green Building: Wo-Built Inc's commitment on Being Green, Designing and Building Green and Sharing our Knowledge.