60 Richmond East Housing Co-operative

PROJECT 60 Richmond East Housing Co-operative, Toronto, Ontario
ARCHITECT Teeple Architects Inc.
PHOTOS Shai Gil unless otherwise noted

60 Richmond Street East is the first housing co-operative to be built in Toronto in many years. This project sets an example for urban infill and sustainability in the city. Located near a busy downtown Toronto intersection, this 11-storey building seeks to provide an alternative to the ubiquitous glass tower condominium projects. The massing of the building is imagined as a solid street wall that is then carved in order to create openings and terraces at various levels, which become the gardens and social spaces of the building. 

The 85-unit co-operative was designed to house tenants that required relocation due to the nearby Regent Park redevelopment. Employed in the hospitality industry, the residents are all members of a local union called Unite Now. They run and operate a restaurant and training kitchen on the ground floor. A community garden on the sixth-floor terrace provides food for the restaurant and uses the organic waste gen-erated by the kitchens as compost for the garden. This creates a self-sustaining condition known as “urban permaculture.”

Clearly at the forefront of sustainable innovation, the project has achieved LEED Gold certification for its environmental achievements. The architecture acts as a medium to cultivate greenery, cool and cleanse the air, and absorb stormwater. All roofs on the project are green surfaces, helping to insulate the building and limit the heat-island effect in the downtown core. 

This project explores ideas of contemporary urbanism in the North American city. It seeks to understand and express the notion that urban form can simultaneously be environmental. 60 Richmond East is also an example of the imagination and dedication that is required to create responsible architectural solutions in the current global economic and environmental climate. 

The building evolved through an Integrated Design Process involving energy-modelling consultants, engineers, client groups and occupants. The appropriate ratio of solid versus glazed surfaces allows the building to achieve the optimal balance between natural light and cross-ventilation without overheating the interiors with excessive exposure to the sun. Unlike other residential building types, the entire structure is wrapped in a highly insulated rain-screen cladding that eliminates all thermal bridging. The fibreglass glazing acts as an extended thermal break which, in combination with low-E argon-filled units with warm edge spacers, provides optimal performance of the building envelope. A sophisticated mechanical system transfers energy from the warm south side to the cold north side of the building. In-suite heat recovery is provided throughout, resulting in an exceptionally energy-efficient residential building. 

Jury This is a socially admirable project that very much transcends the type and stands as an exemplar for urban housing. The building design takes apart the various program components and recombines them into a complex, sustainable and very urban hive of neighbourhoods. It is extremely gratifying to see a social-housing project rise so far above mere accommodation. CA

Client Toronto Community Housing Corporation | Architect Team Stephen Teeple, Richard Lai, Christopher Radigan, William Elsworthy | Structural CPE Structural Consultants Ltd. | Mechanical/Electrical Jain & Associates | Landscape NAK Design Group | LEED Consultant Enermodal Engineering Ltd. | CONTRACTOR Bird Construction Company | Area 99,565 ft2 | Budget $20.4 M | Completion March 2010