One of the latest draft Teeple Architects, 60 Richmond East Housing Co-operative (Flats), was completed in March 2010. With 11 floors and 85 units of mixed use, this building is one of the first new housing co-operatives to be built in Toronto in recent years. He won the Association of Ontario Architectural Design for Excellence (2010) and Canadian Architect of Excellence (2007). It was certified LEED Gold.
The project is a result of collaboration between the local director of the city workers union “UNITE HERE” “and the Toronto Community Housing. Many of the tenants moved here as part of the revitalization of the housing project Regent Park social. New residents work mainly in hotel and restaurant industry. The client program – a housing complex for employees of the hotel, which was inexpensive to build and maintain – was a key inspiration for the design that incorporates social spaces dedicated to food and its production.
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The result is a small scale, but a complete cycle ecosystem, described as “urban permaculture,” the restaurant and kitchen are on the ground floor, supplied with vegetables, fruits and herbs that grow on the terrace of the sixth floor. The garden is irrigated by rainwater from the roofs, and organic waste generated in kitchens serve as fertilizer for the garden.
Unlike the large number of condominiums that occupy the landscape of the city center, this project was conceived as a solid mass carved to create openings and terraces at different levels. The building volume creates spaces that are intertwined and contrast to the outside.
This visually dynamic solution was instrumental in achieving several key objectives, such as the creation of the garden, taking advantage of the light inside the building and provide green spaces outside. The terraced garden, created in this process also aid cool and clean the air.
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Customer demand to have low maintenance costs also inspired the design and sustainable innovation. Some durable materials combined with energy saving strategies such as insulation panels cement fiber siding, windows, high performance, sophisticated mechanical system, heat recovery and the recovery of drainage water and the heat of the common laundry. A carbon footprint is further reduced due to the low-maintenance green roof and rain water harvesting in the garden terrace.
With the project 60 Richmond, Teeple Architects office tried to create an innovative composition, sculpture and space so as to define and animate a dynamic public sphere. The result is a building that is wrapped with its environment from the corner of the site, while while drilling through a courtyard that leads to the street connecting the semi-public open space to enliven public spaces in the city. This solution creates outdoor spaces with certain facilities including garden sixth floor, providing natural sunlight for both residential units to circulation spaces.
With this design, the architects created a dynamic urban form, which brings green areas to the city without the dismantling of the existing urban form. This project demonstrates the company’s dedication to creating a dynamic and creative planning, where sustainable design considerations are integrated into project design.
It is also an example of urban permaculture and an exploration of the potential of the cooperative as a social organization appropriate for the provision of affordable housing. 60 Richmond is an iconic design that shows an innovative approach to urban congestion.