Teeple Architects to design new housing co-operative in Toronto

Teeple Architects is designing a new housing co-operative in Toronto, the first to be built in the city in several years. Located at the corner of Richmond Street and Church Street, this 12-storey building seeks to provide an alternative to the majority of recent glass tower condominium projects, and aims to set an example for urban infill and sustainable design goals. The 85-unit co-operative will be primarily formed by tenants requiring relocation due to the Regent Park regeneration project nearby, but will also serve those employed in the hospitality field, as the ground floor consists of a training kitchen and restaurant, as well as several classroom areas. The units range from one-bedroom to four-bedroom with two-storey units on the second and third floors. Many units have private terraces and many of the public corridors are naturally lit.

Commissioned by the Toronto Community Housing Corporation, this project has set forth from the beginning to determine an architectural form for mid-density housing based on principals of sustainable design and construction. The form of the building has been considered both urbanistically creating a solid street wall and taking advantage of the full volume of the site, and from a sustainable perspective wherein the volume of the building envelope is carved to create openings and terraces at various levels, which will become the social spaces of the building as well as gardens, and to permit light to penetrate the building volume. These gardens will provide herbs and vegetables for the training restaurant which, in turn, will produce organic waste that can be used as compost, assisting in creating a condition of urban permaculture.

This project will bring positive change to the existing neighbourhood on a multitude of levels through the addition of downtown residents, an enriching of street life and social interaction with public access to the training dining room, to the enhancement of the urban fabric with design excellence of the facilitys architecture and engineering. Daylight will be found throughout all the circulation areas, public spaces and even the back laneway on the north side of the project by means of the various interlocking exterior voids that allow the sun-angle to cut through the project.

This project is designed to demonstrate leadership in sustainable housing and energy conservation. During construction, the project will see the promotion of local materials and products as well as a high percentage of recyclable materials such as cement board, metal siding and concrete with fly ash. Innovative technologies and materials involve fibreglass windows, high-performance glazing, heat recovery at both common areas and individual suites, rainwater collection of garden irrigation, a low-maintenance green roof, and an enhanced automated building system.

The project will be actively maintained and monitored through the co-operative tenants who will form a committee to operate the facility. The maintenance will be through central sources of Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC). Additional involvement of the Co-operative will be in the upkeep of the Training Kitchen and Dining Room on the ground floor, as well as the ongoing programs around composting and gardening of the upper terraces.

The first stage of this project involves the demolition of the existing two-storey structure on the site, followed immediately in August/September 2007 with the start of the new construction. Budgeted at $18 million, the anticipated completion date of the 100,000-square-foot building is Fall 2008.