URBAN DESIGN & MASTER PLANNING
LOCATION: Meaford, Ontario
ARCHITECT: LINEVISION Architects
DESIGN LEADERSHIP: Michael Poitras, Principal-in-Charge of Design
CLIENT: 2 Build Development Corporation
From time to time a building site can prove to be a mixed blessing: breathtakingly beautiful on one hand and potentially hazardous on the other. Bounded on two sides by the Bighead River (south and east), as it elbows past, flowing out towards the inner harbour and located next to Meaford’s downtown core, this property perfectly suits this multi-residential program. A deeper understanding of the riverside site reveals a flooding potential, especially when combined with big weather events at specific times of the year.
In responding to the dual nature of this site we have created a platform much like an oceanfront pier, only substantially wider. Positioned well above the 100-year flood line, condominiums are strategically placed above the hazardous zone so life can safely take place. Programs such as car parking, watertight loading docks and waterproof mechanical and electrical rooms are located below the platform. Further, car parking will be screened from view with naturally vented black metal louvers designed to break away during a flood. As a flood starts and water begins to rise, cars would be re-located off-site, allowing water to flow unimpeded beneath the platform, so as not to create any additional problems for neighbouring buildings.
To the platform’s topside, condominiums are arranged in a classic “U” formation. With three-storey town homes forming the parallel sides of the “U”, Trowbridge Street to the north and the Bighead River to the south are lined with building facades. In both cases, terraces and stacked balconies face out to the street and river, extending seasonal use and animating the adjacent public realm.
Between these rows of town homes an internalized pedestrian “street” has been developed, complete with landscaping, promoting social interaction between neighbours and providing all with a point of address (front doors). Completing the “U”shaped composition of buildings just west of the town homes is the taller apartment building. Rising from four storeys at Trowbridge Street to over eight storeys at the river, this building anchors the entire complex with its tall, commanding presence.
Between the “street” and the apartment building lobby and surrounded by a shallow reflecting pool, is the car turnaround/drop-off, with access to both lobby and street. This watery element continues south to the platform’s edge, cascading 13 feet down in a dramatic man-made waterfall, adjacent to the Bighead River.
To the periphery of the project is a two-tiered riverside walk, complete with landscaping and numerous points of interest and public benches. Here, leisurely strolls are promoted to their fullest, allowing the young, the old and the physically challenged an opportunity to enjoy the Bighead River while mixing with fishing enthusiasts along the way. Accessible by day and night, this waterfront promenade extends from Sykes Street to the west, all the way northeast to the inner harbour.
Architecturally, this project can be understood as a series of repeated concrete “frames”, which not only provide rhythm and interest to the facades, but also define one’s property, much like fences do in a suburban neighbourhood. These frames, a nod to the ribs on a canoe’s hull, are a well suited metaphor for this riverside location. Overall, having developed a language of architecture that is inspired by the river, this project successfully addresses the difficult issues of flooding, while complementing town planning, promoting social interaction and ultimately creating a picturesque waterfront promenade.
Note: For Trowbridge Mews statistics, materials and general program, see Mixed Use Portfolio – Trowbridge Mews.