It doesn't look like much in this picture (although I am not much of a photographer) but this mix of old brick, old reclaimed douglas fir wood and new siding is another innovative and important social housing building by Levitt Goodman Architects, known to TreeHuggers for their flying prefab and their vermicondo. It is not in the prettiest part of Toronto either, and fits right in, as it is supposed to.
The former city works yard is now a homeless shelter and transitional housing; the part of the building shown here is composed ot 20 one-room 16 foot square rooms with small bathrooms, wrapping around a large courtyard. Originally conceived as a prefab, it turned out to be more economical to build on site, as is often proving to be the case.
The balconies and circulation are 8' deep to act as front porches for the units; meeting places and observation galleries rather than just corridors. Says Dean Goodman: "Single-loaded corridors are actually quite inefficient, where the same width of circulation space only serves one room." However, for Goodman, these "corridors" are for much more than just room access. "They are balconies. They provide a view and interaction with the courtyard below. We made them extra-wide to create places for informal gathering and the fostering of community."
It is low cost housing for poor people with bare concrete floors, exposed painted brick, galvanized steel exterior stairs, and bolt-ends protruding through the exterior walls. But when you walk through that old arch into the courtyard, it is serene, gracious and generous. We should all be housed in buildings designed with such care and skill. ::Levitt Goodman Architects via ::Canadian Architect