Many of us pass like ghosts through the buildings we live in. Our lives don’t leave a mark on the buildings we live in and they don’t leave a mark on our lives.
Yes, today’s apartments are designed like blank slates for us to write ourselves onto; but what would it look like if buildings were more proscriptive about our lifestyle?
As this social housing building in Downtown Toronto shows, there can be significant benefits. To run it requires commitment from its residents but it boasts of greater levels of community and sustainability than most of Toronto’s condo towers.
Indeed, it was also constructed for less.
The building is perforated with above ground courtyards. These are used to grow food, which is used to supply the onsite training kitchen. This gives the residents a way to make money and generate income.
Remember, this is social housing, after the close of Regent Park Social Housing Project many residents had to be relocated. This is one of the places people were relocated to. It was found that many residents of Regent Park worked in Hospitality and Restaurant Industry. The concept revolves around urban permaculture. The result is a building that proscribes a system that allows residents to provide for themselves and make a living.
The building is an exploration of the potential for Co-ops to provide affordable housing.
Beyond the social goals Teeple incorporated numerous sustainable provisions to lower the building’s environmental impact. The gardens are supplied with grey water from the roof, which is covered in a low maintenance green roof. The plants lower the urban heat island effect. Compost from the kitchen is used on the garden. The building boasts heat recovery, drain heat recovery and durable materials.
The form diverges from the standard glass-box condos that now populate the Toronto skyline. Having only 40% of the wall in glass allows better insulation and therefor cheaper heating and cooling.
The practicality of the construction is tempered with the deeply considered sculptural presence of the building, which is derived from the constrictions of passive ventilation and the concept of the raised interior courtyards. The design also serves as a way to bring light to the interior or the building.
View this project in Google Maps
Check out Teeple’s other architecture here.
Researched and Written by Robin R. V Whitteker, undergraduate student at OCAD University in the Environmental Design program.