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Doors Open 2018

Denegri Bessai Studio is participating in Doors Open TO again this year! Come by the studio to check us out! We will be open to the public Sunday May 27th from 10am-5pm

"The 19th annual Doors Open Toronto presented by Great Gulf provides an opportunity to see inside more than 130 of the most architecturally, historically, culturally and socially significant buildings across the city.

This year’s theme, “Film: The Great Romance” explores the city’s film and television industry. With more than 1,400 on-location film, television and digital media productions taking place in the city each year, Toronto is North America’s third largest screen-based production centre and the heart of Canada’s film and television sector.

The Doors Open Toronto program features historic cinemas, film and television studios, post-production houses, digital media studios, artist-run centres and film training schools. The program also highlights buildings that have been featured in film and television, many of which are often not open to the public."- Doors Open TO 

OpenInsights Program- What's the Story Here? A Panel Discussion on Architecture, Film and Toronto

As part of this year's Doors Open event, Maria Denegri will be moderating a panel discussion Saturday May 26th at 2pm. The discussion will be centered around the relationship between architecture and film and the role they play in advancing and building a story. 

 More Info


Denegri Bessai Studio at IDS18

 January 19th-21st 2018 @ The Metro Convention Centre 

 Denegri Bessai Studio is thrilled to be participating in IDS again this year with the design of a lightweight vaulting pavilion that will highlight and showcase the work of selected Ontario Wood partners. 


Toronto Interior Design Show


NXNE Festival

June 17-19 @ Toronto Port Lands

Denegri Bessai Studio is working hard on the overlay design for this year's NXNE music festival and brand new venue in the Port Lands. Look for updates in the coming weeks!

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Denegri Bessai Studio participating in Doors Open 2016

Sunday, May 29, 2016, 10:00am-5:00pm
Denegri Bessai Studio, 1088 Bathurst St.

Denegri Bessai Studio is once again opening its doors to the public this Sunday as part of the annual event Doors Open Toronto. Anyone and everyone is welcome to come into the office and check-out our space. We hope to see you all this Sunday!

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The Ontario Association of Architects names Denegri Bessai Studio Best Emerging Practice

The Ontario Association of Architects (OAA) have named Denegri Bessai Studio Best Emerging Practice in 2016 as part of its annual OAA Awards. An Awards Ceremony was held at the Allstream Centre May 13, 2016 as part of the annual OAA Conference.

The Best Emerging Practice award recognizes “the contribution of young firms that have been in practice for five years or less and demonstrate a clear vision, well-articulated goals and proven effective strategies that provide a competitive advantage.”

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Ontario Associaton of Architects ConEd Lecture

Between May 10th and 13th, 2016, architects, interns, and students from across Ontario gathered in Toronto for the Annual OAA Conference. Held at the Allstream Centre in Exhibition Place, the title of the conference was Architecture Matters.

As part of the Continuing Education(ConEd) lecture series, Tom Bessai discussed the current state of computation, digital fabrication and the use of advanced technologies in architectural design. He outlined the implications for design practices in relation to these new tools and techniques, showing workflow, practical examples, and process artifacts from our work.

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Alberta Association of Architects Lecture


Duncan Sabiston was an invited speaker at this year’s Banff Session held biennially by the Alberta Association of Architects. The Banff Session was located at the Fairmont Banff Springs Resort in Banff National Park, May 13‐14, 2016.

The conference theme was Convergence. Duncan’s presentation explored the use of new techniques and technologies within collaborative project-based design environments.


TSA Ideas Forum: In Series


Sunday, January 24, 2016 – 1:00 – 3:00pm
Gladstone Hotel, 1214 Queen Street

The Toronto Society of Architects and Toronto Design Offsite Festival collaborate to present an ideas forum — a PechaKucha-style event, 20 slides shown for 20 seconds each — featuring artists and designers from the ‘In Series’ exhibition, as well as other practitioners working with series, repetitions, and pattern.

Presenters included Denegri Bessai Studio’s Tom Bessai with co-presenters Robert Cram, Victoria Chin, Paddy Harrington, Meghan Price, Martha Sparrow, James Swain, Tara Lee Towers, and Watson Soule.


B3D Design Conference


Friday, October 23, 2015, 1:20pm – 2:50pm
Sears Atrium, George Vari Engineering Building, Ryerson University, 245 Church Street

Tom Bessai will be presenting as a panelist and moderator in the upcoming B3D conference hosted by Think2Thing and Ryerson University. The conference runs over two days (October 23-24) and addresses themes related to how 3D printing and scanning technologies reshape how we interact with the world. Tom’s session is titled 3D Design – Mediating the Spatial and Social Environment.

3Dimensional modeling, scanning and printing technologies are creating new and exciting opportunities in design and manufacturing. “Mediating the Spatial and Social Environment” features experts in a range of related fields from the social sciences to architectural design. This creative group of researchers pushes the possibilities of design and fabrication using advanced manufacturing techniques in combination with computation-based design methods. From the materialization of organic form, to the development of detailed spatial and material data sets, to the delivery of low cost custom local manufacturing, this session explores the broadest scale of material and social fabric/ fabrication. Design applications include Architecture, Social Innovation, and Manufacturing.

Complementary Material Systems: Mangrove Structure
Speaker: Tom Bessai
Without a Leg to Stand on: 3D Printing Prosthetics
Speaker: Matt Ratto
Integrated Digital Technologies for Architectural Rehabilitation and Conservation
Speaker: Stephen Fai
Micro Macro – Architecture in High Definition
Speaker: Benjamin Dillenburger

Panel/Roundtable Discussion
Moderator: Tom Bessai
Panelists: Matt Ratto, Stephen Fai, Benjamin Dillenburger

B3D Event Registration for Friday is Free!


Mangrove Structure on Display at the Design Exchange


Denegri Bessai Studio’s Mangroove Structure is on display as part of an exhibition on large-scale 3D printing at the Design Exchange, titled 3DXL. On display between May 15-August 16 at the Design Exchange’s offsite location – 363 King St. West.

The exhibition highlights the possibilities of large-scale 3D printing, and its impact in design, art, and construction. Curated by Sara Nickelson, DX Curator and Director of Collections, 3DXL is the museum’s first major offsite exhibition, located in a glass box gallery at the corner of King and Blue Jays Way.

Projects on display include a central component from DUS Architects’ 3D Print Canal House in Amsterdam; Benjamin Dillenburger Studio’s Arabesque Wall, a strikingly intricate 3D printed building component made from sandstone; Emerging Objects’ Saltygloo, a glowing translucent pavilion printed entirely from locally harvested sea salt; and Denegri Bessai Studio’s own Mangrove Structure, an airy alcove constructed using flexible rods and 3D printed connectors.

Find out more about the Mangrove Structure below, or come see it person until August 16!

The Mangrove Structure is an ultra- lightweight construction that takes advantage of two complementary material systems for its basic character and organization. The first is a networked system of bending-activated structural elements made from engineered glass fibre re-inforced (GFRP) rods at a diameter of 3/8”. These rods gain stability when held in their bent position, and are sprung into a structural shape through a second network of complex node and floor connections. This second system is comprised of custom designed joint clusters that are manufactured through state-of-the-art digital modeling and 3D printing techniques. Each connector is unique, although categorized by type into ‘apex cluster’ (top), ‘x-node’ (horizontal) and y-node’ (vertical) types; there are a total of twelve nodes in the installation. The light weight and relative strength of the structural elements combined with the infinite variability of the node placements make for a very versatile composition. Like the coastal mangrove forests from which this installation takes its name, the Mangrove Structure gains its strength through its network of separate elements and represents a variety of potential configurations and ‘habitats’.


Denegri Bessai Studio participating in Doors Open 2015


Saturday+Sunday, May 23-24, 2015, 9:00am-5:00pm
Denegri Bessai Studio, 1088 Bathurst St.

Denegri Bessai Studio is opening its doors to the public this weekend (May 23+24) as part of the annual event Doors Open Toronto

Organized by DOT and the Toronto Society of Architects, our office will be part of the Architects Studio Tour. We invite you to visit our storefront office on Bathurst Street, and see what happens behind the scenes at our studio. See artefacts, live prototyping, laser cutting & 3D-printing. The Denegri Bessai Studio staff will be on hand to answer questions you might have about our practice.

Since its inception in 2000, Doors Open Toronto has attracted more than two million visits in nearly 600 unique locations across the city. It is Canada’s largest Doors Open event and one of the three largest Doors Open events in the world.


Denegri Bessai Studio Receives Honorable Mention at 2015 OAA Awards


Dancing Cubbies was selected to receive an Honourable Mention in the Concepts Category at this years Ontario Association of Architects (OAA) Awards on May 8th. The ceremony and dinner were held at Liuna Station in Hamilton, providing a venue for Ontario’s architectural community to gather and celebrate the year’s achievements.

According to the OAA website, the Concepts category recognizes “clarity and uniqueness of expression of an architectural idea as well as promoting the involvement of individuals in the areas of design presentation, art and other design related endeavors.”

Denegri Bessai Studio would like to thank the OAA for the Honourable Mention, the Huron Street Public School, and everyone in the office involved with the design of Dancing Cubbies – Tom Bessai, Maria Denegri, Dave Reeves, Jared Pumber, Dave Freedman, Francesca Joyce, Sophia Panova!


Lecture: John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design

Cottingham Thumb

Thursday, March 19, 2015 – 1:00pm to 2:00pm
Room 103, 230 College Street

Following the lecture, audience members are invited to continue the conversation with the speaker in the Graduate Student Lounge, located in the lower level of 230 College Street.

On Thursday March 19th Maria Denegri and Tom Bessai will present a series of recent projects at the Daniels Sessions lecture with an emphasis on iterative design methods and the accompanying artifacts, both digital and material, that are being produced in the studio.


Maria Denegri and Tom Bessai win National Competition for Canada Day


Tom Bessai and Maria Denegri won a national competition to design a picnic table-inspired artwork (pictured above) created with the involvement of the public. The winning entry, titled Maple-Synthesis, is a table whose design is loosely based on the pattern of a maple leaf, seen from above. The base is made of a pre-fabricated steel frame and the top is made from three layers of CNC cut ¾” plywood that is marked with a pattern on each layer, creating a topography of cells. Benches are bolted to the frame.

The design of the table allows for multiple seating configurations and uses. Unlike a more traditional table, it accommodates a large family or several smaller groupings. The table allows users to sit inwards or outwards facing the Ottawa River.

From 10am – 5 pm on July 1st at Jacques Cartier Park in Gatineau, Quebec, members of the public will fill the pattern of over 200 cells (one cell each) with an aggregate of finely crushed rock, in red and white and other colours, creating patterns that express their individual perspective. The tabletops will then be sealed into a surface suitable for picnicking and game playing.

The table will be part of a Canadian Heritage public art project that will see the designs of several of Canada’s most exciting artist/designers come to life. The picnic-table inspired works will be installed throughout the National Capital Region until September 2nd. The competition’s theme, “1+1=Us” reflects the history, memory and multiple identities that shape Canada. The picnic table concept allows for places of sharing, discussion and entertainment.


Working Models Forum

McGill University School of Architecture/ Faculty for Architectural Research in Media and Mediation (FARMM)
Thursday-Sun, May 8 to May 10, 2014
McGill University School of Architecture/ Faculty for Architectural Research in Media and Mediation (FARMM), MacDonald Engineering Building, 817 rue Sherbrooke Ouest, Montreal, Quebec

Tom Bessai will be presenting his current research on adaptive architecture in the upcoming Working Models Forum hosted by McGill Univeristy. The Forum, organized by Michael Jemtrud and FARMM will unite scholars and practitioners to discuss the shift in architectural discourse from a formal nature to informal biological, parametric, environmental, and economic modeling.

“The issues addressed via these events are driven by the pressing need to consider rapid technological development and the opacity of contemporary technics in relation to our ability to imaginatively and collectively consider the limiting and enabling impacts of technics on our ability to judge, invent, and act together.”


Final Review, Tom Bessai’s Design Studio on Adaptive Architecture


April 15, 2014 10:00am-5:00pm
Azrieli School of Architecture and Urbanism, Carleton University, Azrieli Pavilion – 4th Floor


The studio is an intensive experimental workshop that explores iterative design processes using physical prototypes and computational models.  Material Systems research and production in architecture  constitute the principal frame of reference for the studio and for the creation of a perfomative architecture capable of deployment, adaptation and responsiveness to users and environments.

Critics: Inderbir Riar, Johan Voorduow, Maria Denegri, Liza Stiff, Peter Olendzki

image credits:  Prototype Model, Hybrid Folded/ Pneumatic System, Sarah Ward, Golnaz Karimi


Globe and Mail ‘Tricking the eye in Toronto’

The Globe and Mail’s architecture critic Alex Bozikovic, recently published an article on “designs that make the most out of small spaces.”

“From empty nesters to first-time homeowners, more and more Canadians are inhabiting tighter quarters,” he wrote. So how can one live stylishly in a small space? Bozikovic featured three residences, including Delaware Avenue a skinny Toronto home designed by partners Tom Bessai and Maria Denegri. The duo, with help from the project team, removed walls, installed storage units, and created taller doors to make rooms appear more spacious.

“The most surprising move, however, is back down in the kitchen,” writes Bozikovic.

The galley space, just 12 feet wide, adjoins a small back room that is even narrower and lower. A bit of visual trickery bridges that gap: A light fixture, fashioned out of translucent acrylic, flows over the step in the ceiling. Its pattern, determined with an algorithm and cut using computer-controlled milling machines, suggests lace or drops of water. “By taking your eye away from that step-down, it makes the transition more seamless,” Denegri says. “You’re reading one long space, as opposed to a kitchen plus add-on.”

To read the full article, visit the Globe and Mail’s website.

If you missed the project link for Delaware Avenue earlier you can find it here!


ar.chi.tect [redefined] Symposium, Ryerson University

Tom Bessai will be a panelist in the upcoming ar.chi.tect (redefined) Symposium hosted by Ryerson University. The symposium will explore changes sweeping across the design professions brought on by technological advancements in design and fabrication.
‘To critically assess where we currently stand and project the methods of the future, we look to the leaders of exploration and innovation to compare and contrast their processes of design.Ryerson University’s Master of Architecture class invites architects, academics, industry professionals and students to come together to explore and debate the effects this metamorphosis is having on the role of the architect.’
Tuesday, Jan 28, 2014, 6:30pm
The Design Exchange, 234 Bay Street, Toronto, ON M5K 1B2
Guest Speakers:
Hanif Kara, Professor in Practice of Architectural Technology at Harvard University GSD; Director, AKT II Structural Engineering
Jonathan Mallie, Principal, SHoP Architects; Managing Director SHoP Construction
Stephen Kieran, Partner, KieranTimberlake; Adjunct Professor of Architecture at University of Pennsylvania School of Design
Tom Bessai; Assistant Professor, University of Toronto John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture;
Principal, Denegri Bessai Studio Architecture | DBS Design and Fabrication
Moderator: Alex Bozikovic, Architecture Critic, Globe and Mail


Adaptive Architecture Studio at Carleton University

Tom Bessai is the 2014 Canadian Scholar-in-Residence at the Azrieli School of Architecture and Urbanism at Carleton University. Tom is teaching a winter semester Master of Architecture studio with a focus on material systems entitled, Adaptive Architecture: Temporary Infrastructure for the Toronto 2015 Pan-Am Games. The studio group is making several trips to Toronto for site visits and workshops at the DBS Fabrication lab.
Diagram from IL25: Form, Force, Mass. Frei Otto


Crisp January light

Welcome to the Denegri Bessai Studio on a bright and beautiful January morning!

Happy New Year to all our colleagues! We look forward to the next year ahead.



3D Makerbot · Now In the Studio!

DBS_3d_makerbotDBS Design & Fabrication is a prototyping laboratory run by Denegri Bessai Studio with a specific focus on fabrication, prototyping, and applied research.

The use of 3D Prototyping has now come to Denegri Bessai Studio! The new equipment will allow us to create rapid models of geometry for all sorts of uses. Bringing us closer to the final product at an early stage will benefit all designs. The Makerbot will be used for the studio and new exciting venues to be launched in the coming months at DBS! Stay tuned HERE and HERE to keep in the loop.

More to come!


ACADIA · Adaptive Architecture

Tom Bessai to Present This Week at ACADIA 2013

acadia_dbsTom Bessai’s paper entitled, “Bending-Active Bundled Structures: Preliminary Research and Taxonomy Towards an Ultra-Light Weight Architecture of Differentiated Components”, will be presented Thursday October 24 at ACADIA 2013. The Association for Computer Aided Design in Architecture (ACADIA) is an international network of digital design researchers and professionals. The annual conference facilitates critical investigations into the role of computation in architecture, planning, and building science. This year’s conference is entitled Adaptive Architecture, and is being held at the University of Waterloo School of Architecture in Cambridge. The conference runs from October 24-27, 2013, and is being hosted by the research networks of the University of Waterloo, University at Buffalo, SUNY, and the University of Nottingham working in partnership with The London Building Centre Trust.

Bessai’s research into Bending-Active Bundled Structures was initiated over the past year at The University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture, where he was conducting design and computation research towards a Master of Science in Material Systems under principal advisor Sean Ahlquist.

Event details and Schedule can be found at the conference website.


Buenos Aires · Parametric Models of Territorial Organization

bsas_territorial_organization For the month of August, Tom and Maria led a summer program, entitled Global Architecture in the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires, Maria’s hometown. This program involved a group of M.Arch. + M.L.A. students from the John H Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design at the University of Toronto in collaboration with Anna Font, Ciro Najle, Diego Petrate, and Pablo Remes Lenicov from the School of Architecture + Urban Studies at the Universidad Torcuato Di Tella.

The workshop analyzed the countryside of the Province of Buenos Aires, also known as ‘La Pampas’. The workshop consisted of the parametric modeling of a set of organizational protocols for territorial systems at multiple scales. Under analysis were various architectural and infrastructural components to understand how the interact, assemble, and replicate in La Pampas. The models created will continue to be developed by the School of Architecture + Urban Studies at the Universidad Torcuato Di Tella in a larger project that will reconsider their organizational potentials.



TSA Idea Forum: Emerging Voices

Denegri Bessai Studio is participating in Emerging Voices!


tea_emerging_voices“For emerging young offices, new ideas, new technologies, and new models of practice are essential for survival in the dynamic and competitive design environment of the GTA. The methods, strategies and interests of an emerging group of young design practitioners and architectural firms will be the subject of the upcoming TSA Ideas Forum entitled, Emerging Voices: Design Process.

The Ideas Forum will assemble the principals of 9 young Toronto architectural practices for an intensive session of sequential lectures. Each speaker will be given approximately six minutes and 20 slides in which to present projects and working methods. Out of this display of new work will emerge some of the central themes and attitudes that are driving the next generation of Toronto’s designers and practitioners.”

date: Friday 20 September. forum: 7.00 – 8.30PM; gallery opening: 6.00 – 9.00PM
where: Studio Theater, Harbourfront Centre. 235 Queens Quay W, Toronto, ON


Globe and Mail Article

Hepbourne is featured in a Globe and Mail article!

1112_Hebourne_01But what if that was a mistake? Architects Tom Bessai and Maria Denegri suggest that the back-to-the-garden set may have gone too far. “The way these lots are used, from the mid-20th century on, is interesting,” says Mr. Bessai. “Rather than just a garden for sitting, or ornament, there are a lot of functions assigned to a small space. If you put it back with a few changes, it works well.”

The couple, of Denegri Bessai Studio, have successfully tested this idea with the yard of their friend and neighbour David Wellington. He recruited Mr. Bessai and Ms. Denegri, who live right behind him, to replace his crumbling garage. He got a new garage, a beautiful one, but also a total remake of his south-facing yard that put a hard edge back on it.”