2009 SAB Awards Winner - Artscape

Jury comments - Here is a fabulous example of the reuse of a derelict building that brings life back to an abandoned area of the city. Re-use rather than tear down is the best starting point for sustainability, and the project is also targetting LEED Gold certification through high-efficiency HVAC, and electrical and water conservation.

Artscape Wychwood Barns is a mixed use centre for artists and environmental organizations, realized through the conversion of an early 20th century streetcar repair and maintenance facility in a dense residential neighbourhood in downtown Toronto.
The 5,600 sq.m program consists of 26 live/work housing units, 15 work studios for local artists, a series of community spaces for arts and environmental groups, and a greenhouse and sheltered garden, all adjacent to a newly developed city park.
The oldest barn, built in 1913, is converted into a covered street and provides access through the facility as well as a place for markets, exhibitions and large public gatherings.
Included in the design is a ground source heat pump HVAC system supporting high-efficiency mechanical equipment, and a 90 cu.m cistern to collect roof water for irrigation and use in all washrooms in the facility. All the lighting in the building is high efficiency, and extensive day lighting is provided throughout the building through perimeter glazing and skylights. This glazing also provides a passive ventilation circuit in all of the residential units.
Finally, the existing barn form and thermal mass enabled the creation of thermal buffer zones within the facility which provide a tempered transition space between fully tempered spaces and the exterior environment.
Thermal insulation was added to the interior face of all of the existing perimeter masonry walls, improving the performance of the enclosure while protecting the brick from the adverse effects of the freeze-thaw cycle.
Integration of new sustainable systems required careful adaptation of the technology to the building’s form and structure. The geothermal heat pump was installed in the park adjacent to the Barns.
Site remediation focused on the re-integration of the site into the local ecology, and included the removal of contaminated soil, the introduction of planted areas on the previously paved site, and the establishment of a community greenhouse and demonstration composting facility within the shell of Barn 4. The rainwater captured from the roof and stored within the building’s cistern is used for irrigation throughout the project.
The ground source heat pump reduces dependence on fossil fuels by meeting the heating and cooling needs of the building using the Earth’s thermal mass. Individual check metres were installed within the residential and office units, allowing the building owners to monitor electricity consumption and to optimize building performance.
Materials are chosen for durability – including recycled plastic. The plastic siding panels manufactured from industrial scrap. The panels are waterproof, UV resistant, contain no asbestos, fibreglass or toxic resins, and in this installation alone, diverted more than 4000 kg of plastic from landfill.
The project has been embraced by the community it serves, and is the focus of many community activities including a weekly farmers’ market.


  • Owner/Client City of Toronto/Artscape/Stop community Food Network
  • Architect du Toit Architects Ltd.
  • Heritage Architect ERA Architects
  • Structural Engineer Blackwell Bowick Partnership
  • Landscape Architect The Planning Partnership
  • Greenhouse Consultant Michael Dixon, University of Guelph
  • Mechanical Engineer Stantec Consulting
  • Electrical Engineer Stantec Consulting
  • LEED Consultant Stantec Consulting
  • General contractor Dalton


  • Exterior Alumicor windows, aluminum frames, Polyboard recycled plastic cladding on north elevation by Renew Resources, Duro-Last white roofing membrane, Polarfoam SOYA insulation, air barrier supplied by Polyurethane Foam Systems Inc.
  • Interior Georgia-Pacific drywall, burnished concrete floors finished with water-based clear sealer, radiant heating [overhead] by Schwank Group, millwork cabinetry faced with Panval by Uniboard, energy-efficient lighting by Cooper Lighting, low-formaldehyde Panolan countertops by Nevamar; Enerboss fan coil units by Nu-Air Ventilation Inc., BAS Building Controls, American Standard faucets, Franke/Kindred sinks, Caroma dual-flush toilets

Project Performance

  • Energy Intensity 627MJ/m2/year
    Including both base building and process energy
  • Water Consumption from municipal sources 283 l/m2/year
    Including both base building and process consumption
  • Local materials [800 km radius] by value 60%
    Recycled material content 10%
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