4B Comprehensive Design Studio Final Reviews

9:30 AM - 5:00 PM
Organized by:
Kate Brownlie, Elizabeth Lenny, Alex Robinson

Zoom links to come


Plant based architecture at Tommy Thompson Park 
We aren’t destroying the biosphere because we are selfish. We are doing it simply because we are unaware. I think that is very hopeful, because once we know, once we realize, then we change, then we act. 
--Greta Thunberg 

How much does your building weigh? 
--Buckminster Fuller 

Inspired by the unique wilderness  of Tommy Thompson Park and motivated by global climate change our clients believes in the power of design to not only provide a social terminus for the spit but to  also create a benchmark project that raises awareness about the importance of a  life cycle approach to building. Our client is committed to creative and forward looking approaches to the relationship between materials, amenity and beauty, and sees architecture as an important voice in service of planetary betterment.  


Climate change is the fundamental design problem of our time. Not style, not fees, not education, not community, not health, not justice. All other concerns, many of them profoundly important, are nonetheless ancillary. The threat climate change poses is existential, and buildings are hugely complicit—even more so than that stock culprit, the automobile. As every architect should know, buildings consume some 40 percent of the energy in the U.S. annually, and they emit nearly half of the carbon dioxide (CO2), through greenfield development, cement production, and the burning of fossil fuels such as oil, gas, and coal. Because CO2 traps solar energy in the atmosphere, thereby heating the planet, it is the chief agent of climate change, making buildings—and by association, the architecture profession—profoundly responsible.  
-- Alan Organschi 
-- Gray Organschi Architecture 

While opinions differ about the best way to measure energy, carbon capture and life cycle impact of buildings there is universal agreement that material choices have significant consequences. For example, it is widely accepted that timber has a smaller carbon footprint than other major construction materials, as well as being sustainable and reusable. An additional benefit of using timber is that through sustainable harvesting practices it has the potential to support better forest management and curb   deforestation, both major climate change issues. For these reasons we are adopting “a plant based”  or “biogenic” approach to building materials for this project. Where ever possible we want to choose materials that contribute to planetary balancing.  https://www.arup.com/perspectives/publications/research/section/rethinking-timber-buildings  


When architecture is at its best... you're coming up with something that is pure fiction. 
--Bjarke Ingels 

As a poet I hold the most archaic values on earth . . . the fertility of the soil, the magic of animals, the power-vision in solitude, the terrifying initiation and rebirth, the love and ecstasy of the dance, the common work of the tribe. I try to hold both history and the wilderness in mind, that my poems may approach the true measure of things and stand against the unbalance and ignorance of our times. 
--Gary Snyder  

Originally conceived as a project to prevent sediment from blocking Toronto Harbour, Tommy Thompson Park, ( a.k.a Leslie Street Spit )  has become a remarkable lesson in  biological resilience as millions of cubic meters of construction debris, earth fill and dredged sand  have transformed into a thriving eco system.    After 40 years the landscape of lagoons and sand peninsulas attracts hundreds of species of birds, mammals, fish and insects offering urban dwellers a respite from the ever densifying city. The site for our  project is located at the tip of Tommy Thompson Park and can be accessed via a 5km hike or bike journey from the city’s edge.  Our site along with “The Beaches” and “The Island” reveal places where Toronto remembers and re-invents it’s rich and complex  relationship with Lake Ontario.  


Individuals living in ‘greener’ buildings reported more social activities, more visitors, knew more of their neighbours and had stronger feelings of belonging.” 
TRADA (2015) Case Study, Believe in Better Building, London, UK 

The project is composed of three elements. First is a live /work space for 4 artists   based on the City of Toronto’s  Artscape program (http://artscapegibraltarpoint.ca/artist-residences/), where artists are awarded three month residencies on site.  The second element is a year round cafe plus public sauna and  seasonal changing rooms providing places for gathering, refreshment and  repose. Finally, a series of outdoor spaces serve to connect and or separate the inhabitable programmatic spaces. These elements include places for bike parking, picnic areas, bird watching and a swim deck.  The existing light house must be maintained and may be incorporated into your proposal.