One of Teeple Architects' latest projects, 60 Richmond Street East Housing Co-operative, was completed March 2010. This 11-story, 85-unit mixed use building is among the first new housing co-ops to be built in Toronto in recent years. It won the Ontario Association of Architects Design Excellence Award (2010), the Canadian Architect Award of Excellence (2007) and the Toronto Urban Design Awards - Award of Excellence (2011) along with many other prestigious awards. It has achieved LEED Gold certification for environmental stewardship (2011). The project results from collaboration between the local city councilor, the hospitality workers’ union ‘UNITE HERE’, and Toronto Community Housing. Many of the tenants are being relocated here as part of the revitalization of the Regent Park social housing project. The new residents are primarily employed in the hospitality and restaurant industry. The client program – a housing co-op for hospitality workers that would be economical to build and maintain – was a key inspiration for the design which incorporates social spaces dedicated to food and its production. The result is a small-scale, but nevertheless full-cycle ecosystem described as “urban permaculture”; the resident-owned and operated restaurant and training kitchen on the ground floor is supplied with vegetables, fruit and herbs grown on the sixth floor terrace. The kitchen garden is irrigated by storm water from the roofs. Organic waste generated by the kitchens serves as compost for the garden.
Unlike the myriad of condominiums that populate the downtown landscape, 60 Richmond was conceived a solid mass that was carved-into to create openings and terraces at various levels. The deconstructed volume creates interlocking and contrasting spaces stepping out and back from the street. This visually dynamic solution was instrumental in achieving several key objectives: Creating the kitchen garden, drawing light into the building interior and providing outdoor green space. The garden terraces created in this process also help cool and cleanse the air thus limiting heat island effect in the urban core. The client’s requirement for low maintenance costs also inspired many of the design and sustainable innovations. Durable materials were combined with energy saving strategies such as insulating fibre cement panel cladding, high performance windows, a sophisticated mechanical system, heat recovery, as well as drain water heat recovery from the common laundry facilities. A reduced carbon footprint is further achieved with a low maintenance green roof and rainwater collection for the terrace gardens.
With 60 Richmond, Teeple Architects sought to create an innovative, sculptural and spatial composition in a manner that defines and animates a dynamic public realm. The result is a building that wraps around its corner site while it is simultaneously perforated by a courtyard that reaches outward to the street, connecting this semi-public outdoor amenity space to the public space of the city. This solution creates outdoor amenity spaces including the 6th floor garden and also provides daylighting to both residential units and hall ways. With the design of 60 Richmond, Teeple Architects has created a dynamic urban form that brings a green environment into the city without dismantling the urban form. This project demonstrates the firm’s dedication to creating a dynamic and inventive urbanism where sustainable design considerations are integrated into the conception of the project. It is also an example of ‘urban permaculture’ and an exploration of the potential of the co-op as a social organization appropriate for the provision of affordable housing. 60 Richmond is an iconic design that showcases an innovative approach to urban infill.