Danish-Canadian collaboration to design new residence at UTM
Toronto architects Montgomery Sisam and Danish architects Christensen & Co. have been awarded the project for University of Toronto’s new student housing building in Mississauga.
With a strong focus on sustainability and on designing vibrant learning and living environments, Christensen & Co. Architects share a common design approach with Montgomery Sisam. The Toronto firm has extensive experience in working with the University on Toronto, including on the recently completed Myhal Centre for Engineering Innovation & Entrepreneurship and an in-progress facility for the University’s Koffler Scientific Reserve.
“We are very happy to have this possibility to export our knowledge and competencies within sustainable architecture to a Canadian context,” says Vibeke Lindblad, architect and CEO from Christensen & Co Architects.
The overall vision of the project is to move “from unity to community”. As a result, the team has created a concept focused on feeling at home away from home. The building is designed as a layered experience of social situations, all with a keen focus on ensuring equal access for all students.
The student housing opens into a variety of shared spaces, spanning smaller scale areas for dialogue and casual “meet ups” in the hallways, moving up to atrium-sized common rooms for larger gatherings and events. These are all designed with clear and distinct character in use of materials and structure, which supports the students’ ability to have a sense of belonging.
“Montgomery Sisam is delighted to be working on this project with Christensen and Co. Even as our firms share similar cultures—a commitment to sustainability, affinity to nature and a passion for the human experience—we are nevertheless excited by the collaboration and the unexpected things that will emerge from the design process,” says architect Robert Davies, director and principal at Montgomery Sisam.
“For us, sustainability is about creating beautiful and meaningful architecture with progressive, innovative energy solutions that ensure long-lasting quality of life for people and the environment. This means that our buildings, both in terms of their aesthetics, social ambition, materials, and technology are made to last,” says Mikkel Sørensen, architect and partner at Christensen & Co Architects.
Sustainability is weaved into all aspects of the project, from using healthy materials and working with circular economies. The design nudges user behavior by incorporating recycling shops to reducing carbon consumption for the construction, and exploring possibilities for geothermal heating.