March 2021

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M A R C H 2 0 2 1 | 69 Londonderry Affordable Housing Redevelopment R EN D ER I N GS CO U RT E SY G EC A RC H I T EC T U R E LONDONDERRY AFFORDABLE HOUSING REDEVELOPMENT by ROBIN BRUNET T he Londonderry Affordable Housing Redevelopment in north Edmonton is a poten- tial game-changer with regards to the way affordable housing projects are developed. It is also a visually striking solution to the outdated resi- dences that once occupied the City of Edmonton-owned site. Londonderry consists of four build- ings made up of 19 one-storey and 37 two-storey townhomes on the ground floor and 184 two- and three-bed- room apartments above for a total of 240 units. The X formation of the four buildings creates two sepa- rate courtyards that are designed to encourage community gatherings. One courtyard is open to the public for spontaneous gatherings or on-site ser- vices; the other is reserved for tenants and includes a community garden. From the outset, Capital Region Housing (CRH) and the City of Edmonton intended Londonderry to be sustainable so that tenants paying market rate would allow CRH to create a financially sustainable model to help offset operating costs and subsidies. Also, "We wanted all of the suites to be uniform in quality, with market- rent level finishes," says John Murphy, project manager, asset management and capital development, Capital Region Housing. "These basic concepts were decided back in 2014, and what followed was a series of four in-depth community engagement meetings to present, ask for feedback, and refine design concepts." Murphy credits these com- munity engagement meetings for Londonderry's success. "During the first meeting we introduced ourselves and asked community members what they wanted to see on the site," he says. "For the second meeting we brought in GEC Architecture, presented five different massing options based on the input from the first meeting, and sought input for each one. "During the third meeting, we pre- sented two of the five options based on the preferences of community mem- bers, and discussed them in depth. This set the stage for the final meet- ing in which we unveiled the single remaining design. From there, we were able to move ahead with rezoning." Peter Osborne, partner at GEC Architecture, says of the final design, "We stepped back the apartments above the townhomes to reduce mass- ing, and the buildings were augmented by a red brick base transitioning to dark grey brick and then lime green composite panel on the upper lev- els – all high-quality materials." The buildings were also designed to be energy efficient, with double-pane glazing, increased wall and roof insu- lation, central heat recovery systems, low-light fixtures, and LED lighting. Osborne adds, "While the X-shape design gave us courtyard space, it also provided the opportunity to create a central interior gathering area with community spaces and a single point of access to an underground parkade. We designed this atrium to be dou- ble height to match the townhomes and gave it wood accents for warmth and vibrancy." Wayfinding for the four buildings was developed by assigning a specific colour to each building and incorporating the colours in the atrium. Allmar consulted with the end-user and architect and are supplying and installing the doors, frames, hard- ware, access control, and cameras. Given that 240 families would live at Londonderry, potential crowd- ing issues on the property had to be reduced, so each main floor unit was designed with walkouts directly onto the street, and a one-way perime- ter lane was created for residents to reduce potential congestion in an alley behind the complex. Construction of the new cast-in- place concrete buildings began in November of 2018, and Je Hanz Daza, project manager at Stuart Olson, notes that Londonderry benefitted from Stuart Olson, GEC, and CRH having worked together prior on a smaller housing project in Edmonton. "We had established a terrific working relationship, and we decided that the most efficient way of construction was to build one residence after the other, with trades going immediately to the next building after finishing work in another. This created a flow and mini- mized interruption." Because upwards of 200 work- ers were on site daily, minimizing disturbance to the surrounding neighbourhood was a priority. "So once the parkade was built we used it for storage and created heated lunch- rooms instead of cluttering the site with trailers," says Daza. Thanks to the synergy between the owners, architects, and build- ers, Londonderry was brought to fruition without any significant chal- lenges. "The only oddity that comes to mind, was striking a coal vein dur- ing construction, which we were able to mitigate through over excavating," says Daza. Londonderry is the city's first social housing regeneration project, and Murphy hopes that it will set a prec- edent for how future regeneration projects can be developed. He says, "We developed a system that worked, which resulted in safe and affordable homes where people can make connections and live comfortably and securely." Murphy concludes, "This mixed- income housing model ensures that tenants never have to worry about moving out due to their eco- nomic situation. As their economic circumstances change, this model accommodates their needs." A LOCATION 14540 72 Street, NW Edmonton, Alberta OWNER /DEVELOPER Capital Region Housing ARCHITECT GEC Architecture GENER AL CONTR ACTOR Stuart Olson STRUCTUR AL CONSULTANT RJC Engineers MECHANICAL CONSULTANT Reinbold Engineering Group ELECTRICAL CONSULTANT Nemetz (S/A) & Associates L ANDSCAPE ARCHITECT Design North Landscape TOTAL SIZE 137,000 square feet TOTAL COST $74 million 10:46 AM

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