The Toronto Affordable Housing Challenge is part of Bee Breeders’ Affordable Housing competition series. Run in partnership with ARCHHIVE BOOKS, this competition tasked participants with submitting innovative design proposals for tackling Toronto’s housing crisis. Toronto is among the ten most expensive major housing markets in the world – with housing prices still on the rise, even more inhabitants are being pushed out of this market. Intelligent, workable solutions need to be implemented. Bee Breeders asks the question: what role can designers play in proposing these solutions?
This design series poses that there is no one right answer to making housing affordable. Today, a host of new ideas and platforms are enabling people to own or purchase homes. These creative methods include everything from community co-living facilities to 3D-printed homes, stackable modular homes, and new forms of transit-oriented development.
There were no specific design or site requirements for this competition. Proposals were requested to be flexible, enabling accommodations for a variety of inhabitant types: single professionals, couples, families, or group living. The brief sought out designs for a pilot-phase concept for affordable housing, which could be carried out within Toronto to increase its housing stock.
The jury reviewed proposals that intelligently adapted existing infrastructure, considered community cohesion, and offered a range of sustainable and innovative design solutions. While this competition was conceptual in nature, weight was given to flexible schemes that could be feasibly adapted to various sites and residential unit types.
Bee Breeders collaborated with a regional and international interdisciplinary jury panel. The full panel included: Nicky Bruun-Meyer, a Toronto-based architect and cofounder of The Site Magazine; Persis Lam, an associate at Diamond Schmitt Architects, based in Toronto; Maya Mahgoub-Desai, Chair of Environmental Design at OCAD University and a practicing urban designer and planner with Moriyama Teshima Architects; Mauricio Quirós Pacheco, Assistant Professor at the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture at the University of Toronto; Fotini Pitoglou, lead architect on hospitality projects at Toronto-based FORREC and executive member of BEAT – Building Equality in Architecture Toronto; Mark Sterling, principal of Acronym Urban Design and Planning and former director of the Master of Urban Design program at the University of Toronto’s John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture; Andreas Tjeldflaat, founder of Framlab, a New York and Bergen-based design studio; Jeremy Withers, a PhD candidate in the Department of Geography and Planning at the University of Toronto, whose research focused on housing policy; and Dan Wu, a product manager at Immuta, whose mission is legal and ethical data operations.
Selected winning designs will be featured in the ARCHHIVE BOOKS’ next issue of its publication series What is Affordable Housing? Bee Breeders and its jury panel thank all individuals and teams that submitted proposals.
Jury feedback summary
Cooperative Corners is a proposal for collective self-funded housing inserted into existing corner lots of Toronto’s neighborhoods, aiming to offer affordable and livable domestic spaces free from speculation or developer profits. According to the jury, ”This project cleverly identifies a unique opportunity to capitalize on an underutilized feature of the Toronto residential landscape – the corner lot – and proposes a new typology that creates gentle density, design flexibility, and the possibility of implementation in various types of residential settings. The project demonstrates several interior advantages, including natural light, multiple entry points (due to ample frontage), and the opportunity to integrate local commerce that can strategically address associated issues of equity and affordability. The proposal also has the potential to create a distinctive sense of place for each neighborhood where corner developments can serve as focal points through unique design strategies. A key challenge with this project will likely be garnering the support of local government authorities and the implementation of a suitable expropriation strategy.” The project puts power back into the hands of the community, while creating interesting and appropriately-scaled building interventions that seem to integrate well into the fabric of the neighborhoods.