May 15, 2006
by Canadian Architect
Centretown Citizen’s Ottawa Corporation is a non-profit affordable housing developer whose most recent project in the west end of Ottawa is a modern affordable housing development comprised of seven townhouses, 14 stacked duplexes, two accessible units, and two raised lofts.
Designed by James A. Colliza Architect Inc., the project occupies a triangular brownfield site bounded on two sides by quiet, tree-lined residential streets and a 100-foot stretch of the busy commercial arterial of Richmond Road.
The organizing principle was to create a compact form around an interior courtyard that respects the site’s unique shape. Each street is composed of appropriately scaled volumes punctured by a series of sight lines that slice through the development and capture glimpses of the interior court.
A series of private/public walkways pierce the site and lead into an interior court that is inhabited by semi-private rear yards, balconies, parking, and a common play area. The space is animated by a collage of fences, canopies, and screens set against a backdrop of white galvalume siding.
Five discrete duplexes line Midway Avenue, forming a rhythm of faades that are stitched together by light steel balconies that project out and then wrap back between the units. Along Hartleigh Avenue, seven townhouses form a more uniform wall punctuated by a pedestrian porte cochre. Richmond Road is characterized by a variety of personalities ranging from nearby car dealerships to innocuous apartment towers.
In response, an “animated wall” is stretched along this road that encloses the interior court and provides sound mitigation for the other dwellings. Two lofts are perched above the wall to allow for vehicular access as well as shelter for bicycle parking. A variety of red brick planes are set in fields of white metal siding and are punctuated with minimalist cantilevered canopies.