Toronto’s Harbourfront Center commissioned several architectural installations to examine how much space people really need to live comfortably for its “Big Enough?” exhibition, which runs through July 8. Part of a larger series of visual arts and crafts exhibits about perspective, this residential architecture display presents the idea that as more people move into a city, their perspective changes about how much living space they need. In urban settings, quality-of-life amenities such as being able to walk to shops or restaurants, having a park nearby, and being a couple of blocks from school or work replace the need for big suburban houses sitting on large, grassy lots. Yet even with myriad businesses and services within walking distance, we still crave custom dwellings that fit our lifestyles. What’s the best way to balance the desire for individuality and personal space with resource-conserving, high-density habitats?

Three Toronto-based architecture firms specializing in residential, single-family design offered answers with interactive installations that challenge visitors’ perspective on comfortable spaces. Altius Architecture tries to “blur the lines of real, perceived, and virtual space,” according to its mission statement. Inviting museum-goers to walk through a gradually shrinking corridor where the smallest section has the brightest light is how another firm, rzlbd, offers spatial contemplation. The third firm, nkA, designed its installation to show visitors that it’s the experience of being in a space rather than the size of that space that matters. In addition to the architectural installations, a corresponding photography display documents the relationship between dwelling and site with images of makeshift houses along a riverbank.