Toronto-based Teeple Architects is interested in architecture that not only occupies its environment, but is a full-fledged extension of it. The 60 Richmond Street East Housing Co-operative project is an application of the principle. “The idea was to explore the form of the city,” says principal Stephen Teeple. “It seeks to reinvent what the high-rise can be.” In this iteration, it's a sustainable urban entity that grows food, cools and cleans the air, and helps prevent stormwater runoff.

The affordable project consists of 85 one- to four-bedroom units for workers in the hospitality industry and a teaching kitchen/restaurant that will provide inexpensive meals to the public. The building's green roofs will grow food for the restaurant, and a compost garden will handle its waste. Second- and third-floor units will have two levels, and most will have private terraces. An ideal ratio of 40 percent high-performance glazing and 60 percent solid exterior wall will ensure energy efficiency, while a carved-away façade will maximize natural light. A collection system will channel water to the rooftop cistern for landscaping.

Engineers helped design complex mechanicals that will transfer energy from the warm side of the building to its cold side. A heat-recovery system and insulated rainscreen cladding also will help control climate extremes efficiently. “This project was a beautiful opportunity, and all the pieces fit together nicely,” Teeple says. It's expected to be completed by July 2009 and will be seeking LEED Gold status.

project: 60 Richmond Street East Housing Co-operative, Toronto
key green strategies: Insulated rainscreen, high-performance glazing, green roofs, compost gardens, water-catchment system, and sophisticated mechanical and heat-recovery systems
architect: Teeple Architects, Toronto
developer: Toronto Community Housing, Toronto
general contractor: Bird Construction Co., Toronto
structural engineer: CPE Structural Consultants, Toronto
project size: 538 square feet to 1,292 square feet per unit
site size: 2.3 acres
construction cost: $178 per square foot
rental price: $790 to $1,382 per unit per month (70 percent of units will rent at 30 percent of qualifying renter's income)
units in project: 85
renderings: Courtesy Teeple Architects