Hola lovely people!

Welcome to another blog post installation on my website! Today we have another Special Guest Feature but this time we have not one but TWO guests. Alex Nowakowski of Tacoma Engineers and Ben Lowry who owns his own building company (Lowry Building Company). In this Blog post I will be speaking to both of them about Passive House Design. Alex is part of the engineering firm that will be working on one of the homes I am currently building up north in the town of Penetanguishene. Today we are discussing the topic of Passive House Design. Alex and Ben are both proponents of Passive House. I first heard about this building and design practice through one of my meetings with Alex regarding the two developments that we are currently building with my company KMD Group. A little bit about KMD group is that we are a boutique development company based out of Toronto (See our website here: and we are currently working on our marquee projects located in Penetanguishene and in Midland, Ontario. These projects are named North Pearl and Aberdeen (respectively). Our sister company, Costa Rican Architecture firm KMA Design Group is providing the conceptual designs for these two projects and of course we are working with qualified Canadian professionals to carry out the necessary work to bring the projects to life.

After hearing about Passive House I decided that I would like to learn a bit more about it so I invited both Alex and Ben to discuss this growing field over lunch at Ciboulette et Cie (my favourite restaurant in Midland (really can not pay a visit to the town without visiting this lovely restaurant) . Karimah (our photographer and landscape designer) also joined us in the discussions and took the photos for the blog post). We started off our discussions at the restaurant where I ordered my fav kale salad.

From Left to Right: Ben Lowry, Katia Marten and Alex Nowakowski.

Katia: What is Passive House Design?

Alex: Passive House is an International Standard and design methodology for buildings that are Energy Efficient. The main design principles are based on airtight and super insulated building envelope, which includes high performance windows/glazing. The aim of the standard is to create an energy efficient building with high levels of occupant comfort economically.

Katia: How did you both meet and what is your story with Passive House?

Alex: I met Ben on a construction project. Ben was working for a company called Monteith at the time and the company had a good philosophy and so did Ben. Our mindset jived together. When Ben went out on his own, we still continued to keep in touch. We met for a coffee in Orillia one day, and found out that we were both doing a Passive House Course at the same exact time. Ben doing a construction course and myself doing a designer course.

Ben: Yeah It was weird that we were both taking the courses on the same day. I was like hey Ben where are you? We were in different buildings though. Same course, same time but in two different locations. So yeah I remember at coffee we were discussing Passive House and that I was so committed to doing these courses and I said to Alex, Do you think am crazy? Alex was in favour of committing to the Passive House principle.

Alex: Yeah so I was taking a course from the Canadian Passive House Institute, and upon completion of the test am now a Certified Passive House Designer. Ben has gone on to use Passive House building techniques in two homes that he has been working on Including his own!

Ben: Yes I believed it in so much am building my own home that way. We are building a home in Niagara as well.

Alex: Very cool projects! Ben has helped us with a few of our clients at Tacoma who were interested in the Passive House Concept. He gave suggestions on material choices constructability, durability, etc. The Passive house community is an interesting one in Canada. There seems to be a great degree of collaboration.

Question: What drew you towards Passive House:

Ben: Personally, I had been following passive house for at least 10 years. I was always drawn to the philosophy which is Invest in the envelope, the windows, the walls. If you put your money there you are going to get your best returns with that. So you know it was in Darmstadt where they questioned, Can we make a building that is so well insulated that we get rid of any heating or cooling system entirely? and they figured out that they could. The metrics are so tight so that you are able to hit a 0.6 air change per hour at 50 Kilo pascals. If you can hit that then you have certain levels of insulation and so you save so much on mechanical. In a poorly insulated building, when you stand next to the walls or windows you can either feel the heat in the summer or the cold in the winter. In passive house you could be standing next to a wall or a window or in the middle of a room, or on the basement or second floor and there is no stratification, it always feels the same.

Alex: So for me I was big on sustainability even when I was fresh out of college. I am a LEED Green Associate but came across the work of Wolfgang Feist (the founder of Passive House) who started this whole movement in the early 90s and I was blown away by the simplicity of the concept and the real world performance

Ben: Incidentally he was inspired by some guys in Saskatchewan who were the first ones to try it. It was not called passive house at the time but the idea was can we super insulate so that we don’t need heating or cooling. So Wolfgang took that idea and ran with it. So it does have Canadian roots.

Question: That sounds all good but I am very curious what happens if you like to have windows in your home and you like to open your windows?

Ben: Well in the summer time you can still do that for sure. You just turn the Fresh air off and open the windows. But if it’s really hot and you need cool. You might not want to open up your windows during the winter though. I mean not a lot of people do.

Alex: Or you open them up for 10 minutes to get some fresh air. I mean I do that in my house now, especially on the weekends. But with the HRVs you get Fresh Air constantly circulating in and so the need will be less to open your windows.

Question: How much air is recycled from the Inside and how much air is recycled from the outside. Is there a different percentage from what they usually use in other systems?

Ben: So the Fresh air system is sized to the interior volume of the occupancy but in terms of the energy efficiency you are exhausting a lot of stale air but there are heat exchangers in the system that basically work like, well there are a few different ways. The one that I am using has a dual core system where the stale air passes through a membrane and the fresh air has to go past it as well and that membrane absorbs all the heat and transfers it to the incoming air. The system I am using is like ninety-two percent efficient but they make ones in Europe that are like ninety-seven percent efficient and you lose almost no energy. The technology has been around for a while but it’s just gotten that much bigger.

Alex: So it is always Fresh air, Fresh air in and stale air out. They are not recycling any of the interior air.

Ben: They say that that level of oxygen actually leads to people being more alert. They have done studies that say people don’t fall asleep, they learn better, these empirical studies have shown that. I mean I used to fall asleep in the auditorium all the time, because it was dark and the air was stale. I mean it did not matter how much sleep I got. I still felt tired.

Alex: I think it is Austria where all their public buildings and schools are required to meet the Passive House Standard. I mean Europe is so far ahead with energy efficiency and government involvement. We are just playing catchup in Canada. Though we have people on the front lines here who are innovators (early adopters) and are pushing for these systems and more people are building with regard for passive house design standards.

At the North Pearl Property

Question: How much more expensive is Passive House?

Ben: I would roughly estimate about 15% to 20% more. Maybe a bit less but we will see at the end of the day. I do think the devil is in the details. I mean passive house does try to preach that you simplify your building form because ultimately a building with less corners and simpler rooflines is going to have less opportunity for thermal bridging and it will be easier to air seal. Say if you have a metal frame you don’t want that going from the inside to the outside because it is a really good conductor of energy and you are gonna have all kinds of heat loss.

Question: So How do you manage with the windows?

Ben: The most energy efficient windows are those windows with wood frame, and with aluminum cladding on the exterior and they make really good fibreglass windows as well and if you want to go for really value focused windows they do make decent vinyl triple glazed windows. At my own house that I am building, I have to really watch my dollars so I have put in high quality, vinyl triple glazed windows. The doors are wood frame aluminum clad from Europe.

Question: How will you be building the work that KMD is developing?

Alex: As with previous projects, we are going to aim for Passive House targets, but also keeping in mind what makes sense for the project and budget. If we don't meet the most stringent of requirements, but we are still 65% more efficient than the building code, it's a wind for the environment and a win for the project. In Darmstadt Dr. Wolfgang Feist has a graph which shows energy efficiency and economics. We want to have our project in a spot where both objectives are met reasonably. We do not want to sacrifice the environment for the economics, but we don't want to have an unreasonable budget that makes the project unachievable. At the end of the day, it is an energy balance, so we will balance all the important factors to ensure success for the project.

What is the difference between LEED and Passive House?

Alex: LEED is a system that is based on points for various aspects of a project. If the project loses points in one area, say energy efficiency, it is then possible to regain the points in the other areas, say access to public transport. This is a good system and paved the way to make building efficiency main stream and helped move the conversation forward. Passive House on the other hand, is based on energy balance. Energy Efficiency is addressed separately from other social or environmental concerns. Not that those other items are not important, but in my opinion they are separate and should not be a reason to discount or ignore the other. The Passive House standard, when followed and implemented correctly, result in buildings that perform as expected, with the energy savings as predicted. Buildings account for a large amount of energy was and greenhouse gas emissions, so the energy efficiency of buildings is paramount.

Where do you see the future of this going in North America?

Ben: At the City of Vancouver they have already written this into their building code. I mean it is not mandatory i don’t think so they would be the ones leading this in Canada at the moment and hopefully the rest of the country will follow suit.

Alex: I believe Seattle is also mandating that you get blower door tests (used to measure the airtightness of buildings) done. I think City of Toronto has their own by law that is mandating low energy and i am not sure if it is pretty close to passive house or if passive house would be a good way to achieve what they are asking for.

Ben: Toronto has three tiers of green standard. Green standard 1 you have to hit . regardless. Standard 2 there is some incentives and standard 3 is basically passive house performance and the incentives are much greater. So there is lowered development charges .


After the visit we went to check out both properties in Midland where my company KMD Group will be developing the houses we are working on. Of course we had to fit some photo time in between the visit. Below you will also find some images we took back in the fall with my KMD Group Team Members.

Smiling on a sunny day!

Smiling on a sunny day!

Alex Nowakowski of Tacoma Engineers

Ben Lowry of Lowry Building Company

Alex, Karimah and Ben

Alex, Karimah and Ben

Back in the summer when we were clearing the land .

Had to pose with the bobcat!

The Team including members of Morden Construction who worked on the clearing of the land.

Photos are a great way to

A photo with Marcela in front of the Lake

Fall Leaves were so pretty!

Fall Leaves were so pretty!

Marcela and I sitting on one of the boulders

I would like to thank both Alex and Ben for having this discussion with me about Passive House. I was able to get an insight into the field and I believe what they are both doing is important work for the future of the building industry. I am excited to be starting this new chapter with KMD Group in Canada. Through my over 33 years experience as an architect in Costa Rica (running my firm I have been able to experience the many sides of project development from an architectural point of view, and now in Canada I am excited to be developing projects and experiencing the process as a developer. In Canada I am currently working with well experienced and qualified professionals on KMD Group’s development projects. To learn more about my firm KMD Group Canada please visit our website at

Until next time, love and light always!



Hola Everyone,

Today’s blog post is special as it is one of the ones where I feature guests that are some of the brightest movers and shakers in the city.

This week’s feature is on Steven Green who is one of the top real estate agents in the city of Toronto (not an easy feat to achieve). He is currently Number 1 at Royal Le Page Partners and has continuously been in the top 10 over the past couple of years.

We conducted this interview at beautiful Edwards Gardens which is located in the neighborhood where Mr. Green does a lot of business.

I first met Steven Green through a mutual friend some time ago. At the time, I was interested in learning more about the real real estate landscape in the Toronto Area and Steven Green was the perfect person to educate me on the current real estate scene (as I already mentioned he is one of the top real estate agents in the city).

After having met with Steven for lunch at the Granite Club one day. I was able to understand the city of Toronto’s real estate landscape better and pinpoint some of my own favorite neighborhoods in Toronto.

It was a bit chilly on the afternoon of this walk but Steven came prepared with his PRADA scarf! Keep reading below for the interview!

Katia: What do you enjoy most about Real Estate?

Steven: What I love most about Real Estate is the interaction with buyers and sellers. I truly enjoy assisting my clients in fulfilling their home owner dreams and finding them a home that is the perfect fit.


Katia: How did you get into Real Estate and how long have you been doing it for?

Steven: I have been selling real estate since September 1987. My family was already in the real estate field to begin with and so it was a natural path for me to take.


Katia: What type of real estate and real estate services do you sell?

Steven: I have helped clients with the marketing and sales of various new home sites and also with the resale of homes and condominiums. My clientele are diverse, from first time buyers up to those seeking homes in the multi million dollar range. 

Katia: What are some of the trends that you are seeing in Real Estate at the moment?

Steven: Well I have a lot of clients who are now deciding to sell their large homes and move to smaller homes or even condominiums in the city and they are doing this without scaling down on their lifestyle.


Katia: Do you see the current Real Estate Market in Toronto staying strong?

Steven: Yes, Real Estate is still a very strong investment to have in the city. I would encourage anyone thinking of buying their first home to prioiritise saving funds to invest in their first home.


Katia: What advice do you have for young people who want to be future home owners?

Steven: I would say building credit and having good credit is super important. If you don’t have a credit card you should get one now. I always advise young borrowers especially to get a line of credit and have a credit card in good standing.

Toronto Real Estate Agent Royal Lepage KMD Group Canada Ontario Katia Marten KatiainToronto Costa Rican Architecture Design Blog Portraits Edwards Gardens trends

Katia: How long have you lived in Toronto for and what has your experience in Toronto been like over the years?

Steven: I have been living in Toronto my whole life. I love being a part of such an amazing community. Over the last seven years, I have helped raise over $2.5 million dollars for our local hospital at our annual golf tournament and I am very involved at our local public school as one of the lead sponsors. It's important to give back to your community, and it gives me great pride to do so.


Katia: How do you market your business and stay ahead of the competition in a super competitive real estate market?

Steven:  Marketing is critical in what I do, from virtual and digital tours, floor plans, feature sheets, advertisements in newspapers, magazines and flyers. I love the whole process of preparing a house to sell. 

Okay that brings me to the end of this blog post. Thank you kindly to Steven Green for being a part of this blog series!

To get in touch with Steven Green you can contact him via his contact details below:

Steven Green
Royal LePage Partners Realty Sales Representative
Tel: call or text: 416-990-2313 
Fax: 416-229-6480 Email:

Until next time friends have a great week and stay tuned for more special features! Love and light always!


Muskoka and Toronto Wanderings

Hello! Welcome to my blog! It is great to have you here! This blog post is a continuation of our last blog post whereby some of my team members from my Architecture firm in Costa Rica had recently come to visit me in Canada! This blog post is a continuation of our last blog post. It showcases some of our fun moments during their trip here including a visit up North to the Muskoka Region and some wanderings around the city of Toronto including taking in a bit of the Design T.O Festival in the process.

We drove up North to Muskoka region for a work field trip. It was so cold and the landscapes were pretty much all covered in snow.

Always conducting business. Thank God for cellphones.

Can you believe we are standing on a Frozen lake!


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The team plus our friend Lawrence.

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There is nothing quite like a Snow Covered Canadian Landscape.

with Marcela

My Costa Rican Team members Ani, Marcela and Diego

Arriving at 3 Guys and a Stove Restaurant for Lunch:

The next day we decided to spend a fun relaxed day in the City of Toronto. We visited one of my favourite restaurants in the city of Toronto called Tabule. This was at the Bayview Mall Location.

Tabule serves up delicious Middle-Eastern cuisine in a modern way. This restaurant never disappoints and everyone really enjoyed their lunch.

A spread of Hummus, Babaghanoush and Labne. This is definitely a reccomended starter!

Falafel Plate



Cauliflower appetizer

Shish Tawouk

The Gang

After Lunch we headed to Pusateri’s in search of some goodies for the Kids of some of our Costa Rican team members

Saying Hi to the Kids via facetime.

Next we made a stop at Squint Eyewear to check out some of the fabulous eye wear was also one of our stops after lunch.

I loved these wooden frames.

When I am at Bayview mall I always have to stop by one of my favourite stores which is NEAT. They sell all kinds of gadgets and products for the home to help you stay organized and Neat!.

We are always telling jokes.

All kinds of kitchenware for the home

After our visit to the mall, we found out that there was a design festival opening that evening. So here we are at the T.O Design Festival! We got to listen to the designer Tiffany Pratt who inspired the crowd with her eloquent presentation. Don’t you just love her pink hair! If you don’t know about Tiffany Pratt, she is a Toronto based designer and artist who inspires through her generous use of colour in her work.

Listening attentively to Tiffany Pratt’s inspiring speech

Next stop was a kitchen showroom that featured appliances with some bold colours.

We ran into a lot of fun characters throughout the night.

When the photographer said “Quick everyone open an oven door” lol

This is the Urban Fabric Installation presented by “Founded by Garcia”.

One of the exhibits we checked out was at the Bulthaup building. Here we saw the “Light Cage Duo” by Luvere Studio . This was exciting as we had previosly seen a picture of it in a magazine given out at IDS called Design Lines So to see it in person was super exciting

Ani and Diego posing with the “Light Cage”

Next we walked over to Aquavato which is a company that sells a large variety of luxury bathroom and kitchen fixtures.

Check out this Bath Tub

There was some form of entertainment at each stop and here I am with two of the musicians playing at one of the exhibitions.

Wow can you believe we all fit under that chair!!!

Okay folks that brings me to the end of this beautiful blogpost! I am happy to have shared these beautiful experiences with my some of my Costa Rican team and my Canadian team at KMD Group. Until next time I wish you love and light as always.



Hello! Welcome to my blog! It is great to have you here! In this instalment some of my team members from my Architecture firm in Costa Rica had recently come to visit me in Canada! This blog post (and the next after this one) will showcase some of our fun moments during their trip here. Moments that included a a trip to the 2019 Interior Design Show. The Interior Design Show (IDS) is an annual event that takes place over four days in January. It showcases some of the best and innovative interior design products and talent from around the world. There are also a number of speakers from a wide variety of backgrounds who give talks on their work and a wide variety of design related topics.


Lighting designers Hollis +Morris had a beautiful display. I absolutely love their lighting designs.

Ontario Wood’s booth display and they had a neat installation. The whole team had to pose for photos.

A portrait of myself with the structure.

This is Ani Our Costa Rican Architect from our Costa Rican office.

Here is Karimah (Our photographer and landscape designer) here at KMD Group.

Here is Marcela who is the managing director at KMD Group!

This is Diego. He is a Costa Rican Architect from our Costa Rican office.

This is Philip who is our Project Manager at KMD Group in Canada.

Here was one of the showstoppers at IDS. It is the Concept House “Great Lakes Cabin” that was designed by Backcountry Hut Company (BHC) with landscape design by Flattery Design.

The team (minus our photographer) in front of the cabin!

At IDS we came across this exhibition by Dutch designer Marije Vogelzang called the “Intangible Bento”. It was quite interesting as it invited visitors to take a walk through the ribbon filled installation. Inside we got to try some delicious samples of food such as flatbreads made in front of our eyes , and Apricot and Seed Balls.

Fun times!

Do you know how they made flour back in the day? Well now you do.

Fresh Flatbread Samplers? Yes Please!

These seed and apricot balls were delicious!

Stuffed Pasta Shells in the making.

The ladies!

Well? What Inspires you??? A display by the Ryerson School of Interior Design (

We came across this company that produces Space Optimization Furniture and the representative gave passersby a quick look at how desk tables could be turned into dinner tables and cupboards could be turned into workstations.

Testing it out for myself.

The display by VYVYD Lighting.

The display by Miles and May. They sell high quality wood furniture.

This was the stage setup.

We took photos with one of the Main Stage Speakers the designer Michael Sorenson .

One of the other speakers whom we truly enjoyed listening to were Neri and Hu (pictured below (photo credit: IDS 2019 website). They were invited by IDS as the headliners and International Guests of Honor. We really enjoyed their talk so much that we actually forgot to take photos during the actual talk. Here is a short description of them as described on the website of IDS: Neri and Hu are an interdisciplinary practice based in Shanghai with an office in London. They have won numerous international awards such as the the PLAN Award (2018), EDIDA Designers of the Year (2017) and Wallpaper* Designers of The Year (2014) to name a few. Neri & Hu strongly believe in research as a design tool, their work draws from the dynamic interaction between experience, detail, material, form and light.

EQ3 is a store that sells furniture that are “Modern Designs for Everyday Living”.

The Interior of a shipping container display by the group “Giant”.

The exterior of the shipping container.

The carpet display by W Studio.

How neat?

A fireless fireplace.

This DJ was spinning some cool tunes.

I love to take photos with interesting people. Check out this guy’s hair and beard.

A wall of Kitchen appliances.

The WrKkit workspace by SDI Design Inc.

According to their website” WRKkit is a life size kit of parts that can be reconfigured into thousands of configurations according to one’s ‘workplace personality’”.

We came across these beautiful Ottomans by the Guelph based company “Ottomn”.


Stumbling upon these cloud like things, we were curious to know what they were. Turns out they are from a company called Tangible and are known as “Haven”. Haven is an inflatable cloud structure and it has been conceived as a place to relax, meet or simply take a moment.

Naturally our team had to go inside and check it out for ourselves.

Inside “Haven”.

Okay folks that brings me to the end of this beautiful blogpost! Above was our last photo at IDS 2019. It was a lovely show and we tried to see as much as we could in the short time we had. We all absolutely loved the Interior Design Show this year! The displays were amazing and we were fascinated by the speakers at the main stage. They were all great! We look forward to returning to IDS in 2020!

Until next time I wish you love and light as always.


A Trip to the Scarborough Bluffs

Hi Hi Hi! Welcome to my page and my latest blog post! Today's blog post is of the time I visited Bluffers Park in Scarborough which is located in the east end of the city of Toronto. The Scarborough Bluffs are one of the most picturesque locations in the city. At times the water at Bluffers Park takes on a beautiful turquoise colour, so much so that one could be forgiven for thinking they have been transported to the Caribbean. On this day however it was quite an overcast day and so the water was more on the greyish side.

A wide view of the beautiful Bluffs 

A recently added sign to the park explains the significance of the Bluffs.

Taking in the beauty of the bluffs .

Here I am with Marcela

Standing in front of the beautiful Marina with all the boats.

A view of the Marina

I was excited to see the Canada geese

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but they didn’t seem too excited to have visitors lol

The bluffs behind me are just so majestic. They are truly a gem in the city of Toronto.

Marcela found a running buddy at the Scarborough Bluffs.

A portrait pic of Marcela.

We happened on this site where we found some “Muskoka Chairs”. I am not sure who exactly provided them but I loved the writing that said: “TO Canada with love”. For those that don’t know T.O is also the short for Toronto hence why it is capitalized.

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Scarborough Bluffs Toronto Blogger Architecture Ontario Nature Blogs After 50 years old greenery Canada Geese

A lot of different types of species of plants can be found around the park.

There are so many interesting natural elements at the park such as this waterway that leads to the lake.

To end off this blog post, I leave you with this majestic image of the bluffs. It is truly one of the gems in this beautiful city of Toronto.

Until next time my good friends. I wish you lots of love and light as always!


Unzipped: The Striking pavilion by BIG comes to Toronto

Hola beautiful friends!

Welcome to this week’s blog post! Today I am sharing my trip to see the Pavilion by Danish Architecture firm BIG. The story behind the structure is that it was first designed for and unveiled at the Serpentine Pavilion in London, England back in 2016.

According to Azure magazine the Unzipped pavilion is about twenty-seven meters long and is assembled with 1802 hollow square fibreglass frames that are stacked upon each other with the form tapering upwards to a point to create a zipper like look to the structure. When we were there it seemed to be a big hit, with a constant/ steady stream of visitors coming onto the site on a Friday Morning.

The thing that struck me about the pavilion was that once I approached it, I could see beyond the structure all the way till the end. Inside, the place embraces you but also invites you to keep moving forward and not stay put in one place. Once through the structure visitors are met with a large area of grass whereby they can sit down and admire the structure from outside. It was a great place to chat with friends about their experience viewing the pavilion and and just have a good time.

Housed in the pavilion are displays of 10 of BIG’s projects showcased through models, renderings and recordings. This included a model of the planned 480 suite condominium building in the spot the pavilion is located on in the King Street West area.

If you want to check out the pavilion you should hurry up as it will only be open up until November 30th before it heads west to it’s final destination on the Vancouver Waterfront! Complimentary tickets for the Toronto exhibit can be obtained from the following link:

A majestic view of the pavilion

Here I am in the inside of the pavilion!

The below model shows what the building proposal by BIG is for the King West Area. This condominium building is a courtyard building inspired by Moshe Safdie’s Habitat building in Montreal. There are 5 “peaks” that range in levels from 15 to 17 Storeys. This is sure to be a building that will add some to the neighbourhood

Enchanting Infinity

Black and White Details

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A view of the CN tower and the pavilion side by side.

The undulating for of the structure is mesmerizing.

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After the exhibit to Kupfert and Kim for lunch we headed to which is a plant based and gluten free restaurant located at the corner of Richmond and Spadina.

The neatly designed menu

It was busy in the restaurant with it being lunch hour.

The food was delicious. One of the dishes we had was the burger plate which had a vegan patty on bed of brown rice topped with pico de gallo, guacamole & pickled onions, served with roasted yam and a side salad. Yum!

A colourful salad!

A few more photos from the pavilion

Practicing my tai chi.

Well that is the end of this blog post. Thank you for joining me as I explored the new Unzipped pavilion by BIG. I hope you will also get a chance to check it out soon.

As always peace, love and light!


Photography by Karimah Gheddai of

A Mid-Afternoon Stroll Downtown

Hello Hello! Welcome to my latest Blog Post! In this instalment I spend a bright sunny summers day strolling through the streets around the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) and OCAD University, after having ventured to the downtown area for a meeting. I started off the blog shoot with lunch at a restaurant in the neighbourhood and then went to explore the area!

We stepped into PROVO Food Bar for Lunch

The open facade of the building was neat and gave the restaurant an airy feel.

The specials of the day!

Industrial type lighting fixtures

The menu selections

Detail shot of the seating

A historical image of the Dundas and McCaul area graces the restaurants wall. The server also gave us postcards with the image on it as a souvenier to keep.

Our friendly server at PROVO

After lunch we headed to a nearby coffee shop called Carafted Bean Cafe for some caffeinated treats.


I asked for a photo but to my surprise the Barista was already ready with his own polaroid camera to take a photo of me!

The other super friendly Barista and to the right an image of the polaroid wall! How fun and what a neat idea and a great way to display memories!

The iced coffee and cappucino were absolutely delicous!

Ground up coffee beans on display


Across the street from the AGO we found this sculptural piece/ mural. I am not sure who it is of but it kind of looks like Van Gogh to me.

Next up we headed towards OCAD

These pillars are something!

Selfie time!

Excited to be downtown

A view of the OCAD building, “The Sharp Centre for Design” which is sometimes known as the “Checkerboard in the Sky”. The building was designed by Will Alsop and was opened in 2004. It’s architecture is quite unique and OCAD’s website describes it as a black and white “tabletop” structure that stands above OCAD University’s main campus building on 12 multi-coloured steel legs. The building won an award of Excellence in 2005 from the Toronto Architecture and Urban Design Awards and has since become one of the iconic buildings in Toronto. OCAD is the oldest educational institute in Canada for Art and Design.

I found this Harley Davidson parked on the side of the road and I had to pretend I was going for a ride on this cool bike lol!

So this bring me to the end of another blog post! I hope you enjoyed taking a stroll with me!


Doors Open Toronto 2018: 1 Spadina (University of Toronto's Architecture building)

Hola Everyone! I hope you are all doing great! This week's blog post is about our trip to the University of Toronto's John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design at their new building located at 1 Spadina (near the intersection of College and Spadina).

The weekend we went on this trip it was Doors Open Toronto and so the public was given access to enter this university building. Doors Open Toronto is an annual celebration that offers members of the public a chance to check out a number of architecturally significant buildings and interiors of interest, all for free. This year was the 19th version of the Festival and there were over a 130 buildings available to check out all over the city, but we only had time to check out one of them. A rare example of gothic architecture in Toronto, the 1 Spadina building itself was built over a 140 years ago, at that time the Presbyterian Church bought the land and commissioned the architects Smith & Gemmell to build Knox College. Over the years the building has been adapted to fit different uses. 

Commencement on the renovation of the 1 Spadina building to turn it into the home of the University of Toronto's Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design began in 2013 and was completed in 2017. The renovated building was designed collaboratively by Nader Tehrani and Katherine Faulkner who are principals at the internationally acclaimed firm NADAAA, along with architects Adamson and Associates, Landscape Architects; Public Work and Heritage architects ERA. Join us in this blog post as we take a walk around the building in our self guided tour of 1 Spadina. 

The Front Of the 1 Spadina Building.

Arriving at the building.

Posing in front of a model of the 1 Spadina Building.

Checking out the displays.

Student sketchbooks on display.

More Student Sketch Books.

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These windows were show stoppers.

A wall of Student Work.

3D Printed Model.

The top level of the Daniel's building has a fabrication lab which features a very cool roof.

This roof detail was quite spectacular.

The windows from the fabrication lab lets you see straight down Spadina Avenue as far as your eye can see to the lake shore. The windows were so neat that we just had to take a silhouette type photo with them.


A cool organic wooden structure.

An architectural model made of cardbaord

Student Exhibit

We were able to check out the last minutes of a talk on architecture.

There is a viewing area that allows spectators to look into the auditorium from the upper level of the building.

The panelling in the auditorium is a neat array of colours.

In the basement of 1 Spadina is where the library can be found. Here I am walking towards the library.

Railing Details.

The details of the stairs were interesting.

The details of the stairs were interesting.

The lighting details  are quite cool.

A quiet area for students to work/ study which is located adjacent to the library areas on the ground floor and basement.

In the other section of the library (on the ground floor) one can check out magazines and this sculpture.

A wall full of architectural magazines in a section of the library.

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There are tons of seating all over the building, which is quite convenient for students.

Can you guess that what is behind me are a bunch of lockers? It was interesting to see how the architect located them on the ground floor. The added light panel was a nice touch.

After our tour of the building we headed outside to check out the surrounding landscapes and look what we came across! A yellow tractor!

Here I am standing outside one of the entrances to the building.

The landscape around the building is quite unique and was designed by Public Works.

After visiting 1 Spadina we made a quick stop to Kensington Market to shop for fruits. The market is not so far from the University of Toronto's building and is actually within 10 minutes walking distance.

Ataulfo Mangos are the best!

So many flowers to choose from!

There is always something interesting happening at the Kensington market. On this day there was a band playing some music out of a laneway!

Good music deserves a tip!

There are always tons of goods for sale at Kensington Market!

Alright this brings me to the end of our blog post! Hope you enjoyed the tour of 1 Spadina with me! Stay tuned for a whole lot of other exciting blog posts still to come this year!

Until next time peace, love and light always!


1 Spadina's location on the map can be seen below.


Where to get Katia's clothing items: CLICK HERE TO SEE STYLE BLOG POST

Addendum: We returned to the 1 Spadina building a few weeks later to meet with one of the faculty members (Mauricio Quiros) and we were given a second tour of the building so here are some photos from that tour!


A Walk Around The Eaton's Centre

Hi Everyone! Happy Spring! We finally made it into the season. Welcome to another blog post of mine! This post is of a day back in late winter where we checked out the New Pedestrian bridge at the Eaton's Centre that connects the building to the Saks Fifth Avenue building. This bridge was designed by Wilkinson Eyre in partnership with Zeidler and  is quickly becoming a landmark in the city. According to Wilkinson Eyre's website the bridge is estimated to carry two million people annually and can withstand a weight of 70,080 kg. Join me in this blog post as I explore the area around Eaton's centre including the bridge!

The beautiful Eaton Centre which is one of the most popular spots in Toronto. It is always buzzing with eager shoppers.

The dynamic design of the pedestrian bridge, spans 35 metres across Queen Street and is composed of 200 etched bronze panels and 355 curved glass panels.  

The dynamic design of the pedestrian bridge, spans 35 metres across Queen Street and is composed of 200 etched bronze panels and 355 curved glass panels.  

We took a stroll into SAKS fifth avenue to check out the store and we ran into this super friendly employee below!

After windows shopping we  decided to treat ourselves to some chocolate goodness at Godiva's. The milkshake was something else!

mmm a truffle from Godiva!

It was Easter when we took these photos and so the eaton's centre had these cute bunny sculptures as part of their Easter decor!

Green everywhere!

We stopped by the church of the Holy Trinity which is right outside the Eaton's centre.

Window Details

Here I am playing the role of photographer for some Tourists!

I met a new friend!

In the midst of the labyrinth.

Okay my friends that brings me to the end of this week's blog post! Thank you kindly for joining me! Until the next one have a great rest of your week! Love and light always!


An afternoon well spent at West Elm

Hello Hello Everyone! Welcome to another blog post! This post is of our trip  to the furniture store West Elm located on Yonge Street.  West Elm  is a furniture store that focuses on modern designs for the home and office. West Elm is based out of Brooklyn, NY and they pride themselves in being a company that designs majority of their furniture and decor items in-house, carefully selecting organic, handcrafted and sustainably sourced materials. They have a ton of cool stuff so join me as I check out some neat items in the photos below. 

Woah look at this entrance!!!

These chairs were fantastic!

They have a variety of options for office furniture and decor.

These lighting fixtures are so unique!

After walking through the entire West Elm store and seeing all the great stuff they had, we had worked up quite an appetite and so we  had lunch at the Italian Restaurant La Vecchia which is located on Yonge Street.  Here I am standing outside the doors.

Check out this cool door and all the details!

It is always so interesting to see how restaurants have fashioned their spaces with decor items.

The restaurant menu

Some bread and condiments to start us off for lunch


Our  half and half pizza! One side for the vegetarian and the other side for the meat eaters.

Seafood Pasta

Ravioli. with mushrooms

Leaving the restaurant we came across this neat mural and I had to snap a photo with it.

Okay folks that brings me to the end of this blog post! Thank you kindly for joining me on my journey by reading this blog! Until the next one have a great rest of your week! Love and light always!


The National Home Show

Hola Amigos! Today is a superb day as I get to share some photos from a fun trip to the 2018 National Home Show that took place last month. This year the national show also included Canada blooms! So us attendees were able to check out both shows.

The show was buzzing with people!

An arrangement of doors to welcome us!

These massive jacuzzi's were quite a sight!

I came across this "Exercise Garden" by Otium and thought it was genius! They even had a punching bag of which I took a turn at kicking!

landscape design featuring the cast of Star Wars

All smiles ready to explore all the show has to offer

It was hilarious to see these funny shoes at the Home show lol. 

A self driving lawn mower! 

Fake Turf and Greenery on display

Real Plants on display

The exterior doors we saw at this booth were neat!

Red doors!!!

Barbecues make me long for summer even in my winter coat!

This was one of my favourite exhibits

This one  below was for sure my favourite exhibit of all! I love when so much thought is put into an exhibit!

How beautiful is this chandelier!

Another beautiful feature was this sculpture

This company made cool fold out beds!

Standing pretty under the water fountain!

Very interesting landscape Exhibit featuring Jack Nicholson and "Where's Johnny???". Jack's face scared me a bit hence the awkward smile on my face lol! 

Checking out the work of a landscape contractor

These canopy structures were also some of my favourite things at the show!

Practicing my domestic skills

Enjoying beautiful abstract art