Here at Collaborative Architecture our blood runs green. Making affordable green buildings and places is the core focus of everything we do. But, what does Green Design mean, anyways? The thing is, the same words Green Design may mean different things to different people. When you think of Green Design, what comes to your mind?
- Healthy homes full of fresh air and sunlight?
- Energy efficiency and low monthly bills?
- Warm, natural materials such as wood and stone?
- Durable, long lasting, and low maintenance buildings?
- Flexible, easily adaptable designs that grow with us?
- Socially responsible design that enhances all life?
- Low carbon footprints that help address Climate Change?
- Affordable construction & operation for years to come?
One of our central tenets of ‘Great Green Design’ is that our buildings and spaces should be welcoming for everyone. Accessible or ‘universal’ design captures the idea that as Designers, we need to be aware of how people with differing perspectives and abilities will perceive and interact with the spaces and places we create.
Do we design for you or design with you? Ideally, we design with, instead of designing for our Clients and the end users of all of our projects, not just those that clearly are intended for use by people with differing abilities. Our most valuable skill as Designers is to listen to our Clients.
Green Design takes many forms and the repurposing or rejuvenating of existing buildings will play an increasingly important role in both reducing the carbon footprint of our buildings and at the same time preserving our rich urban heritage. Besides, old buildings are often just really cool to work with and be in!
Adaptive Reuse refers to taking older (often ‘heritage’) buildings and renovating them to fufil a new purpose different from the function they were first intended to fulfil. The experience we have gained from planning & designing such renovations also plays into our new designs in the form of a ‘loose fit for a long life’ Retrofitting older buildings to meet our goals for comfort and energy efficiency brings its own set of challenges that The Architect Builders Collaborative have risen to over the years.
Garden Suite, Backyard House, ADU, Granny Flat, Coachhouse, Laneway House, Secondary Dwelling Unit…..
Call them what you will, they are all a House-behind-a-House and since the passing of the 2019 ‘More Homes, More Choice Act’, municipalities across Ontario have been stepping up and creating more options for Homeowners to build a secondary, smaller house-behind-a-house. The rules around what a ‘Garden Suite’, to use Toronto’s term, can be will vary from town to town, but they all share some common characteristics. From an environmental perspective, Garden Suites provide an opportunity to add gentle density, optimize our use of existing investments in infrastructure, rejuvenate aging neighbourhoods, and add much needed rental housing to the market across the Province. Furthermore, they don’t rely on large developers, but instead provide many ordinary Ontarians with a safe means to invest in rental housing and in the future of our own communities.
Collaborative Architecture has taken a deep interest in this form of gentrification with the several laneway house projects nearing completion and in design. We have also developed a series of low cost ‘ready-to-build’ green designs to suit the common requests for this kind of new housing.