In contrast to expanding the already dispersed and disconnected plan, this proposal shifts the Southward Precinct development into a consolidated urban carpet in the existing campus center. At the heart of this new convivial fabric, is the transit hub flanked by commercial, community and university uses with housing above. By shifting the new development into the existing campus center, the Southward Precinct is freed to extend into a new natural landscape loop, increasing the campus’ green nature by more than 300%. Conceived as a series of stepped solar courtyard blocks that respond to views and solar access, the new courtyard block typology maximizes social convivial mixing with chance encounters amongst intergenerational residents and visitors. Towards the south and north these courtyard blocks step up to maximize passive solar heat gain and views, while towards the east and west step down to allow summer breezes and pedestrian access. By creating an intimate, pedestrian fabric between the blocks, winter winds are blocked while creating a walkable campus. The grade courtyard block level is activated by mixed use programs, allowing for a blend of retail, hospitality, community and university functions. The bus rapid transit station is also housed at grade. As the courtyard blocks step up, an undulating urban mosaic of roof gardens creates a new social and natural density above. Sandwiched between these two planes of outdoor public space, is the middle section of housing units, creating critical density on campus. Through this dense weaving of courtyard blocks, a new campus identity is forged combining urban social space with the inter-disciplinary research mission of the university.
In opposition to the Southward extension, this new condensed campus plan is conceived to physically, socially and ecologically bridge the school’s four disparate precincts by equating density with sustainability. Here, the public amenities are located—catalyzing “town and gown” mixing, with easy access from both the bus rapid transit station and new housing. The six different block types offer a diversity of housing types and sizes allowing for a diverse economic and demographic community, from intimate townhouses to spacious courtyard blocks. Interspersed among the new proposed housing are strategically located academic “incubator” buildings. These new academic buildings allow for the university to dexterously grow and incrementally activate new parts of the campus. With this alternating pattern of academic space and housing in plan and section, a rich tapestry of tailored flexibility anticipates future needs. Complementing this new dense urban quarter is the perimeter green loop that ranges from indigenous biotopes to new productive landscapes. Taken together, the green loop and urban quarter create an integrated eco-district, sponsoring a self-sufficient water, energy, resource, and waste cycle. With native deciduous trees and grasses planted to optimize passive solar heating and shading, the shifted courtyard blocks also stimulate natural ventilation and cooling in the summer, while minimizing winter wind chill. Wind turbines along the Red River foster energy independence for the campus while, green roofs, rain gardens, bioswales and bio-waste ponds move the university to reducing its ecological footprint.
Like a metropolitan nucleus… the new connected campus heart not only sponsors new dense housing and credible social interaction but also makes the most sustaining commitment by reducing the distance between people and their destinations. This spatial density occurs not only socially—in section—but also ecologically in plan by the garden court and landscape loop. Imagine a five minute coffee break in a courtyard café, turns into a chance encounter of a biology seminar en route to the indigenous prairie lab, or an agriculture student sharing interest with an architecture studio across the courtyard. By organizationally weaving social, ecological and intellectual spaces together, the new campus center crosses traditional boundaries between disciplines and demographics, forging new sustaining cross-pollination for the future of Manitoba.