Architect Cohlmeyer Architects Limited

Location Winnipeg, Manitoba

Webbsite is a 650-square-metre infill condominium project in downtown Winnipeg. It consists of seven loft units of two and three storeys, tucked between a seven-storey college and a four-storey apartment building. The project, erected on a 15m x 40m lot at 443 Webb Place, quickly acquired the working title of Webbsite. Webbsite is the first project of its kind in the downtown area. The owners hope it will serve as a model and catalyst for successful new residential development in Winnipeg. As proof of the viability of small for-profit housing on a neglected downtown corner, Webbsite enriches the public network and transforms a derelict service court into a public park.

Aggressive siting across the lot keeps the building footprint shallow and allows natural light to penetrate deep into the units. Each dwelling has an entry off the newly created through street–the mews. The mews runs between alternating patios and parking spots, and a row of mature trees on the opposite side. The scale and fit of the building, the new street and rhythmic massing of the upper levels all serve to create a unique pedestrian scale and sense of place.

The seven units and four flex spaces are nestled together, enabling each loft volume to be six metres wide. With the addition of the flex space, the living area expands to 10.5 metres. In the upper units, the loft space connects to terraces amidst trees canopies. On the terrace, it seems possible to forget the urban surroundings and enjoy shifting light and shadow created by the foliage.

The concept of the 25-square-metre Flex space enables open-ended marketing for the two- to three-storey units intended to respond to a variety of needs. Each Flex space has a separate title allowing the resale or rental of the Flex space as separate office or commercial units or as part of the main dwellings. When purchased together with a main unit, the Flex space becomes a home office, an additional bedroom, or a connected suite with a private entrance.

Webbsite is an attempt to challenge the norm while respecting the client’s goal to keep the housing units affordable and accessible to a broad demographic. The building is clad in an inexpensive, true rain-screen envelope, using readily available materials. 600-millimetre-wide precut cementitious panels of varying heights are secured in place with custom extruded aluminum clips. This system proved more cost-effective than traditional stucco. The fenestration is coordinated with the rain-screen envelope, celebrating the unique view and light of each unit while maintaining privacy.

In an era of downtown depletion and suburban sprawl, Webbsite is a spark of possibility for the continued residential development of downtown Winnipeg.

Ouellette: Canadian cities suffer from a lack of affordable, contemporary townhome designs. This project breaks that trend with seven articulated unit designs that together create a small urban street.

Provencher: What struck me here was the conceptual audacity of this small condominium project. The downtown site is extremely narrow and challenging, yet the architects have created an interesting concept that offers three-storey units with exterior terraces. Webbsite is a demonstration of the importance and necessity of good architecture for an urban condominium project to succeed.

Taylor: The architects have outlined a clear mandate of goals to provide an innovative solution to affordable infill housing. This project is commendable for its thoughtful and thorough development at many levels–from a macro strategy for reclaiming derelict urban spaces, to the details of an elegant low-cost construction system.

Client the North Portage Partnership

Architect Team Czesia Bulowska, Cynthia Cohlmeyer, Steve Cohlmeyer, Stacy Dyck, Radu Florescu, Julio Cesar Godoy, Johanna Hurme, Mona Lemoine, Vesna Maklenovic-Al-Hamadani, Sasa Radulovic, Lisa Repeshka, Marlene Roche, Stephanie Shaw, Jim Wagner

Structural Crosier Kilgour and Partners Ltd.

Mechanical B.P. Designs Ltd.

Civil Manengco Engineering

Electrical Pc Engineering Ltd.

Landscape Cynthia Cohlmeyer Landscape Architect

Interiors Cohlmeyer Architects Limited

Contractor Titanx

Area 750 M2

Budget $800,000