Nestled in an infill site in an 19th century Toronto neighborhood, the Tao Sangha Centre creates a place of healing through the holistic art of Tao Shiatsu.
Rooted in the Asian philosophy of the Tao and the Japanese healing tradition of Shiatsu massage, the warm, hand-crafted spaces of the project embody and resonate with the ancient practice. The new two-story, 2,400 square-foot building is situated on a tight urban site just over 12 feet wide. To take on this challenging condition, we drew inspiration from infill precedents in dense urban centers across Japan and Asia. Following the time-honored principles of harmony and balance, the building becomes both fabric and object. The interplay of clear and frosted glass, framed by mahogany mullions, steel structure, and cedar cladding transforms the building into a lantern, a beacon, and a symbol of rejuvenation.
The Healing Centre constitutes the entire ground floor, while a related multi-purpose room for art, calligraphy, language, and music faces the street on the second level. Adjacent and across the light well is a separate single-bedroom apartment with a cedar terrace garden. Generous skylights allow sunlight to penetrate deeply into the spaces of the project, uplifting mind, body, and spirit. Natural light fills the Dojo Hall, providing a space of respite for the center’s patrons and guests, energizing its ever-transforming functions, including Shiatsu classes, chanting, and Aikido. Past the Dojo Hall, tatami-mat based treatment rooms with traditional Japanese Tokonoma wall niches serve as spaces of healing and ritual.
The project was akin to a barn-raising. Members of the community and the Sangha rallied to help with the construction, contributing whatever they could to achieve the challenging $100 per square foot budget. This hand-crafted building and its embodied energy is a testament to the power of community to create a place of collective healing.