20C @ Hoskins Square Housing

20C @ Hoskins Square

  • Brampton, ON
  • Housing
  • 1,100 sq.ft
  • 2015
  • Jay S. Lim, OAA, AIA, LEED AP

Hoskins Square is an innovative project designed for Habitat for Humanity – Brampton that meshes cost-effective and functional modern design with the unique challenges of volunteer-driven construction and donated materials.

Integration of Sustainable Design:
The passive design was a primary focus from the onset.

Wind: To promote natural ventilation, fenestration is placed on opposite corners of each room to maximize the flow through the rooms. Decreasing the reliance on mechanical systems for cooling Solar: All the windows have been specified as triple paned with a low e-coating to ensure heat is retained in the winter while reflecting much of the sun in the summer. Fenestration was maximized on the south façade to help natural light all the spaces reducing the need for costly artificial lights.

Wind + Solar: The atrium and stairwell located in the center of the house are modeled after a qanat (a traditional cooling tower used in middle-eastern climates). As the glazing on the south façade heats up, it draws cooler air from the basement up through the house and is ventilated from the windows on the upper floors. The atrium and stair guards capitalize on the stack effect by doubling as a place to dry clothes. The plywood guards have cut-outs to accept drying racks made of 2”x3” dimensional lumber (page YY). This design solution helps reduce the energy consumption needed for a clothes dryer and simultaneously doubles as a natural humidifier for the house.

B/ents: To draw cooler air from the basement, custom-designed millwork pieces which are part bench and part vent. Nick-named “B/ents”, the pieces are located on the ground floor to allow the basement to participate in the stack effect in the house. Due to the flood levels, windows are not possible in the basement. To solve that problem, the windows are instead placed at the floor level of the ground floor and then covered by the B/ents. The B/ents direct air and light to the basement allowing warm air to be pre-cooled before it is drawn into the main house, while still keeping the windows above the flood level [page YY].

D[o]eck: Since the house sits in a flood plain, the Toronto Regional Conservation Authority requested an emergency evacuation strategy. Inspired by cottage docks, the project developed a unique strategy that enables the exterior wood deck to detach and become a raft. In the event of a flood, the deck would rise with the water levels, enabling the residents to escape from one of the upper windows, if necessary [page ZZ].

CHA[i]R-ity: Inherent within all new building projects are plywood hoarding and job boards (which highlight the names of the project contributors). Traditionally this plywood material is disposed of after the project, creating waste. While Habitat can provide a new home for a disadvantaged family, one overlooked issue remains that the house comes unfurnished, thereby creating an immediate burden on the occupants. CHA[i]-ity is a symbiotic reuse strategy that repurposes the, typically wasted, plywood to create furniture for the family [page AA]. The ‘cut + butt’ strategy pre-prints the furniture cuts and instructions on the back of the plywood. When the sheets are no longer needed, they can be cut and reassembled on site using the basic tools on site. To facilitate construction ‘butt’ joints are used to assemble the pieces. The family can then paint and customize the components to suit their tastes.

Because the house will be built by volunteers, with little construction experience, the construction methodology had to be simplified. In addition, to reduce the costs, the palette of materials used for construction was limited to those provided by ‘box stores’ or sponsors. This condition forced the design to be adaptable and utilize unconventional components, such as plywood guards.

Floors: The floors are intended to be constructed using “Good One Side” grade plywood. This eliminates the need for a costly finish floor and enables the sheathing to serve as both structural as well as a finished floor once it has been clear lacquered.

Railings/ Guards: Plywood again is used to create the guards, while 2x4 lumber is used for the handrails for the stairs and atrium. The homogeneous nature of both the plywood and lumber facilitates installation by the volunteers. The benefit compounds since the cost is less than 1/6th the cost of traditional balusters and handrails. The construction of the guards allows them to serve as both a place to dry clothing and extra storage.

Envelope: The walls will be R-40 and will complement the R-54 roof to ensure a well-insulated house. The windows are to be custom made triple paned low e-coated with a reflective coating on the south façade to reduce summer heat gain while being able to retain heat in the winter.