Stackt Market

Fort York, Toronto

stackt, Canada’s largest shipping container market, boldly rethinks urban retail in every sense: its concept, site, building materials and user experience are temporal.

Constructed from new and reused shipping containers on a future development site, stackt combines pop-up and long-term retail and food vendors with spaces for community programming and events. In a time of economic uncertainty, stackt’s success lies in its flexibility and adaptability. Tenants can choose from a variety of leases ranging from a year down to a single day, offering an ever-changing experience for visitors.

On the ground level, new containers thread in and out to create a network of detached buildings with single and double-height interiors. Their arrangement creates pathways that enhance the pedestrian experience and establishes a network of courtyards and outdoor spaces for cultural programming. The storefronts are deliberately uniform to reduce visual clutter and level the playing field between the independent tenants and their more experienced neighbors.

Each unit incorporates heating, cooling, as well as the necessary power and water infrastructure to support small businesses, and ramps ensure accessibility for strollers and mobility devices. Deviating from the conventional grid-like formations of container structures, we added a third storey that zig-zag across the site, ensuring that surrounding condo dwellers and passersby on the Gardiner Expressway have a dynamic view of the site.

The project was born from the idea of leasing and activating a dormant City of Toronto-owned property while the city prepares for its future use as a public park. Shipping containers pay homage to the industrial nature of the site and give the market its distinct personality. They can also be easily reused and reconfigured elsewhere at a future date without any significant site alterations.

However, despite their temporary nature, our shipping container buildings fell under the scrutiny of permanent structure zoning, including servicing and taxes. To address this, we worked closely with the client and the City of Toronto to find workable solutions within the by-laws, enabling the project to proceed and setting a precedent for future temporary developments.

[stackt] is a fresh new concept for Toronto, in which sustainability – the retrofitting of containers – is the driver behind the creation of a new city destination that has grown beyond the concept of a market. It has become an iconic artform, an animator of a once derelict place, and a unique public space to simply come and enjoy. It has become a political statement, an initiative that challenges our approach to design and city policy. It is one that calls for a resurgence of spontaneity and design innovation unincumbered by restriction that simply allows a space to grow and evolve as the citywide community grows and evolves.

– 2023 City of Toronto Urban Design Awards Jury Report.


UrbanNext (January 2020) – Stackt Market: Bold Urban Intervention
Designlines (December 2019) – LGA Stackt is our public space of the year
Inhabitat (September 2019) Canada’s largest shipping container market welcomes crowds in Toronto
Globe and Mail (June 2019) – A new market experience evolves from old shipping containers and a new retail vision
Canadian Architect Magazine (April 2019) – LGA designs Canada’s largest shipping container retail market
Azure Magazine (January 2018) – Buildings to Watch in 2018
UrbanToronto (January 2017) Temporary Shipping Container Market Proposed Near Fort York