Toronto Condos 4 Everyone

Sunday was another snowy day here in Toronto. I shuffled down Yonge Street on a mission to see the newly built Aura – the tallest residential building in Canada.


Snowy Yonge Street with the spectacular Aura in the distance

In the downtown core, most Torontonians spent the day inside their high-rise condo buildings. Toronto is going through a condo explosion right now and is leading all cities in North America in high-rise construction. Along with this astounding condo boom has arisen a new fear among condo developers, buyers and sellers – tetraphobia!

Tetraphobia is the fear of the number four and it’s common in many parts of East Asia and Southeast Asia. In many Chinese dialects, the words for “four” and “death” are almost homophonous. The same is true in Sino-Japanese, Sino-Korean and Sino-Vietnamese.

In an effort to remove the number 4 from most new residential buildings in Toronto, floor numbers jump from 3 to 5. My building has followed the trend as you can see in this snap of my condo’s elevator panel:


This isn’t the first time that buildings in North America and Europe have toyed with floor numbers. From the early twentieth century until today, the 13th floor has been removed from most buildings in Canada, the U.S. and Europe due to a fear of the number 13. According to Wikipedia, research conducted by Dilip Rangnekar of Otis Elevators found that 85% of buildings with elevators in the world did not have a floor called the 13th floor.

Some Christians believe that the fear of the number 13 (triskaidekaphobia) originated from the story of The Last Supper. They maintain that the thirteenth, and last, guest to sit at the table was Judas, the man who betrayed Jesus the Nazarene. The Bible, however, mentions nothing about the sitting sequence of the disciples. Other scholars point to the 13th god in the Norse pantheon, Loki, who orchestrated the murder of the benevolent god, Baldr.

The Last Supper, Leonardo da Vinci (1494-1498)


Was Judas the 13th person to arrive at The Last Supper?

Fast-forward to 1990s Toronto and we see a similar floor renaming procedure. However, this time it involves the 4th floor, rather than the 13th, due to the recent wave of Asian immigrants to the city.

Canadian real estate developer, Canderel, has taken notice of the changing demographics and, as a result, the company is catering to the superstitions of all cultures with their latest developments. Their shining jewel, the previously mentioned 82-storey condominium, Aura, at the corner of Yonge and Gerrard is set to open in Spring 2015. Following the Western tradition of removing the 13th floor, Aura has 4 floors of retail space and 78 residential floors above it. With the 13th floor removed, the penthouse is now located on the 79th floor.


Look way up! It’s Aura! The flashy ad campaign invites buyers to “Own a piece of the sky.”

Canderel’s latest project, the upcoming skyscraper YC (Yonge at College) Condominiums, will cater to people with varied superstitions. Multiple floors have been skipped in the YC design – 13, 14, 24, 34, 44 and 54.

The Toronto suburb of Richmond Hill has taken it one step further. In 2013, the Richmond Hill City Council passed a motion to ban the number 4 from all new street addresses. The motion was proposed by Greg Beros and it passed by a slim margin (5 votes to 4).

In this CBC interview, Beros explains why he forwarded the motion.

Outside of Canada, many other countries cater to the superstitions of newcomers and visitors. For example, the American hotel chains, Marriott and Hilton, both go to great lengths to ensure that no Chinese tour group is ever placed on a floor containing the number 4. In Hong Kong, both Western and Eastern superstitions are observed as the 13th floors, and any floors ending in a 4, have been renamed in most buildings.

Some find this new trend silly, but it’s no more odd than the 13th floor ban we’ve been complicit with in the past century. Besides, if anglophones counted, “One, two, three, death, five, six, seven, eight,” would you want to live on the Death Floor? Or, would you rather reside on a more peaceful sounding floor? I would definitely go with the latter. How about you?

Your comments are always appreciated!


16 thoughts on “Toronto Condos 4 Everyone

  1. I had never thought about this phobia. In many cities in Brazil, the number 13 is actually considered a lucky number. Former soccer player and now coach Zagallo’s favourite number is 13. He managed to have the Brazilian team win the World Cup four times, and that’s why Brazilians started following the 13 trend. Reasons for lucky of unlucky numbers differ from culture to culture.
    Thanks for the post!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Tetraphobia?!? Triskaidekaphobia?!? Who new? This reminds me of the Charlie Brown Christmas special where Lucy lists all the phobias that might be plaguing Charlie Brown. Amazing that this runs so deep it affects our architecture and how and where we live. Such a testament to the power of fear and superstition in society.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post! As for the fear of 4, our friends with a Chinese background could explain. Apparently the Chinese symbol for 4 looks too similar to the symbol for death.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The terrible fours! The word ‘four’ in Cantonese definitely sounds a lot like ‘die/death’. Here’s a mini break down of the homophonous four: 4 = die/death, 14 = die for sure, 24 = die twice, 34 = die three times and so on. I think it’s hilarious as a first gen kid, but I definitely would never voluntary wear that as a jersey number or take a flight 14.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I always found this so strange – like, if you live on floor 14, you’re actaully on the 13th floor even if it’s not labelled as such. You think it would be bad luck either way. Very interesting about the new condos getting rid of 4!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Great point, Jessica. I’ll bet that some people avoid floor 14, because they know they’re actually on the 13th floor. People ask me what floor I’m on, and I say that I’m on the 9th floor, but it’s called the 10th! 🙂


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