Artscape Wychwood Barns

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Location: Toronto, Ontario. Abandoned streetcar maintenace facility within downtown neighborhood.

Brownfield Adaptive Re-Use of Streetcar Maintenance Barns and Storage Yards

The Setting
An abandoned, historic 1 acre streetcar maintenance and repair facility, constructed as five interconnected barns over a period of 8 years in the early part of the 20th century, surrounded by 4 acres of storage yards in the midst of an established downtown Toronto neighborhood.

The Back Story
Over twenty years of neglect and a long term neighborhood debate about the future of this building and these lands...Should the land be sold to a housing developer? Should the buildings be torn down to make way for a new public park? Should the buildings be kept up, and if so what future might they have and who would champion their renewal?

Enter the Champions & A Community Design Process
A not for profit agency charged with the creation of affordable space for the arts in the Toronto area, together with a determined local councilor, both committed to a thorough community process, including a charette focused on the development of ideas for park design, for the re-use of the buildings, for the integration of the park and the buildings, and for the manner in which the project would enhance the surrounding neighborhood.

Project Goals
-To preserve an important part of our industrial built heritage and to harness the great opportunity that this 4 acre site and 1 acre building provides to bring new focus and a unique sense of place to this established neighborhood.

-To provide affordable space for community-based arts, environmental, educational, and recreational groups and services.

-To use the building to help animate the adjacent park with programs and services.

-To demonstrate best practices in sustainable design in the context of adaptive re-use.

-To honor the legacy of public transit in Canada.

Building Program and Design Concept
A building program and design concept developed in parallel in response to the opportunities of the site and the desire to provide a diverse and vibrant group of public and private uses, ensuring the long term viability of the project in the absence of any operating subsidy.

Five existing barns, five program themes, create a diverse community:
Barn 1 - The Studio Barn: 26 live/work affordable apartments for artists, 10 work only artist studios and a gallery
Barn 2 - The Covered Street: A multi-purpose hall for markets and community gatherings, and a way through the park
Barn 3 - The Community Barn: Affordable office space for arts and environmental groups, two theatre spaces plus support
Barn 4 - The Green Barn: A production greenhouse with classroom and commercial kitchen, sheltered garden, compost demonstration area, and covered outdoor seating for community meals
Barn 5 - The Fifth Barn: A porch to the park, a way through the site, a way to enter the buildings and a partial ruin

Sustainability Design Features
-LEED Gold certification objective - possibly 1st in Canada for a Heritage structure
-Site issues - adaptive re-use, no parking on site, dependence on transit, landscape improvements, intensification
-Energy features - geo-thermal field providing all the heating and cooling, efficient building configuration, thermal mass, daylighting
-Water Conservation - harvest 1 acre of roof water to cistern for all toilets & irrigation, low flow plumbing, no storm discharge
-Materials & Resources - local sourcing, recycled content to materials (e.g. recycled plastic bottle cladding), diversion from landfill
-Indoor Air Quality - emphasis on local control, natural ventilation, material selection

Interpretation combined with Wayfinding
A signage and interpretation program highlighting the site's rich history includes the placement of historic photographs in the covered street, the placement of original machinery and signage throughout, the marking of the path of the streetcar rail lines evident in distinctive paving across the park and through the buildings, while the project's landmark chimney has been 'banded' to reflect the design themes of five barns, which also serves as the principal wayfinding device for the facility.

Transect Zone(s): T5 center.
Status: Complete
Project or Plan's Scale: Building
Features: Affordable/subsidized housing, Live/work, Mixed uses, Sustainable infrastructure, Transit oriented development.
LEED-ND Certification: Gold
Land area (in acres): 5
Total built area (in sq. ft.):
Total project cost (in local currency):
Retail area (in sq. ft.):
Office area (in sq. ft.):
Industrial area (in sq. ft.):
Number of hotel units:
Number of residential units (include live/work): 26
Civic uses (type and size): Public "indoor street"/market (7708 SF), Children's Theatre (5575 SF), Gallery (860 SF)
Parks & green space (in acres):
Residential types: Live/work.
Project team designers: du Toit Architects Limited; The Planning Partnership; ERA Architects; Michael Dixon, University of Guelph (Greenhouse Consultant); Engineering/Environmental: Stantec Consulting; Zorica Gombac; Daniel Gosselin; Traffic Demand Management: BA Group, Alun Lloyd; Code Consultant & Life Safety: Leber Rubes, Jonathan Rubes, and David Galvao; Public Interface: Gottschalk + Ash International, Robert Grillo, Udo Schliemann; Construction: Dalton, Mike Pharant - Construction Management, Matthew Myszkowski - Site Supervisor
Project team developers: Owner/Client: City of Toronto, Culture Department; Artscape; The Stop Community Food Network

Previous site status:

Starting/Ending date of construction/implementation: -


In my neighbourhood

I live just a short walk away from this incredible arts and environment themed facility and can be found at the farmers market there many Saturday mornings. I am so thrilled to see it honoured in this way by CNU!