Part 1: Introduction to the Urban Layout
Last weekend I went for a walk east along Dundas, before long I found myself deep in the Regent Park housing development. Although this area is undergoing some major structural improvements, there is still much stigma surrounding Toronto’s oldest and largest community housing project. From what I saw, through innovative design and construction there is a significant effort being put into reversing the degradation and negative atmosphere.
In 2006, the Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC) initiated a $1 billion, 12-year plan to revitalize the 69-acre Regent Park neighbourhood. Originally built in the 1940s, the neighbourhood was planned after the ideals of the British ‘garden city’ urban model. Through which “modern” living conditions were established with low-rise units, meant to reduce the use of vehicular transportation by increasing the population density of a region. In this case, the density was successfully improved but the residents themselves suffered, and Regent Park subsequently became one of Toronto’s most infamous neighbourhoods.
The existing (Left) and proposed (Right) layouts for Regent Park.
Among many factors, the layout and organization of the neighbourhood can be partly to blame for failure of the original urban model. Many residents feel that they are separated from the rest of the city even though in reality they live close to the downtown core. In the adjacent graphic you see how the existing neighbourhood has very few bisecting roads. It is organized into North and South regions, which are only divided by Dundas East, acting as the major artery through the neighbourhood. The proposed plan is to open up the area, by building roads that go through these large North and South “superblocks”. Not only will this allocate more space for community green-space projects, it will also improve the livability of the region by reintegrating it with the surrounding city. Safety, which is currently a problem, will also be improved as the smaller blocks can be easily accessed and monitored from the surrounding streets.
Architectural rendition of the new layout for the Regent Park neighbourhood.
Next week, Part 2…
Discussing the LEED characteristics of the new buildings and systems being introduced to the Regent Park neighbourhood.
There is one thing all these buildings have in common.
Believe it or not, they are all made out of STEEL SHIPPING CONTAINERS. If you take a closer look, you can see the steel grooves of each of some of the boxes, as well as the odd rectangular prism shape.
Well, shipping containers have lifted logical recycling to new levels of epic-ness. They’re re-use simply makes sense.
Steel is an expensive material, but it is also structurally strong and lasting. The boxes are large enough to serve as a house frame, can be placed on top of each other as lego blocks and easily cut out for doors and windows. Look, how easily they are disguised into the look of a traditional house. The best part about this unique building method, is IT COSTS 20% LESS THAN A TRADITIONAL HOUSE.
The homes also make for excellent ice breakers at a bar. As well, think about all the history that is now in your house, all the stolen cars that once called the container home can be shared with you!
The conventional toilet accounts for 25% of daily water use. 1.6 billion gallons (6.056× 109 liters) of water are wasted in America alone due to inefficient toilets. The amount of water we use to flush toilets per day, is more than most countries use for all their daily water processes. In North America, we are blessed with an abundance of water, but even water is a finite resource and requires an immense amount of energy to be pumped from A to B. A leaky or inefficient toilet
So….. Why not use a little less.
A very easy step and one that earns LEED points in Water-Reduction (WE Credit 3) is High Efficiency Toilets or Dual Flush Toilets. The toilets reduce the water used per flush by 25%!
Many cities give a rebate for purchasing efficient toilets! Whether its your own home or for an upcoming LEED project, theres no reason not to use efficient toilets. The initial cost may be greater, but it is offset by a possible rebate and money is saved every year due to the reduction of water usage.
Here are some options
Check Out the first LEED Platinum Home designed by SB Architects located on a hillside in the SAN FRANCISCO BAY area. Like your favourite car named Betty, these guys named their house too, the contemporary Hillside House (not as spicy as Betty) The 3 Bedroom, 3.5 Bath 3000SF home is built using many rapidly-renewable woods and natural materials such as stone. The house is built into a hillside, giving it beautiful panoramic views.
for more information about the builders click here