Centre Village

Centre Village is a 25-unit housing co-op located on a small infill lot in Winnipeg’s Central Park neighbourhood. The project strives to create a true community – a housing village – within modest means and extensive external factors. Factors such as the compressed lot size, low budget, major vehicular adjacency, nearby derelict housing, as well as a developing community spirit, and a strong pedestrian culture. The design is based on simple, 8’ x 12’ modules organized on a central spine or “bar”. The sizes of all rooms are based on European standards, compressing the North American norm while still producing livable space and ultimately allowing the site density required by the business plan. Occasionally, the base module is replaced by a larger 14’ x 12’ unit that cantilevers off the main spine to necessarily expand the master bedroom and living room. All upper units have their own rooftop patio, and any second-storey units are accessed by exterior staircases. While the housing units are small, the 8’ band allowed each unit to have views in multiple orientations, as well as cross-ventilation. A vibrant orange colour, used to define the ceiling plane in the space and reflect light, is projected out of the living spaces through the window cowlings, which punch the interior space out of the building, capturing views and extending the perceived living spaces outdoors. A typical unit has eight or more windows, liberally scattered throughout to help mediate the smaller internal space, and broaden the sense of space and reflected light.  The mixture of standardized modules creates richness and variability on the site, generating a seemingly unorganized, yet carefully considered composition of small one, two and three and even four bedroom homes. These bars of housing are arranged around two shared inner collective spaces - a landscaped courtyard and an internal streetscape. Every unit has a private entrance from one of these two shared spaces provided to foster individuality as well as connectivity to the larger community of occupants. The common spaces are then connected to the broader neighborhood plugging into the existing pedestrian culture, and encouraging interaction and dialogue. While inviting the general public into the development, the window and suite orientations have been organized to put eyes on the common spaces to providing safety and security. It is not uncommon to be cheerfully greeted in the courtyard by an occupant, or to have a friendly wave from a second storey window.  The 25 units that comprise Centrevillage range from 35 sq.m. one bedroom units to 80sq.m. 4 bedroom units spanning 3 floors. It was critical to the development and community to allow for families to transition from high-rise apartments into this project and therefore the majority of the units have 2, 3 and 4 bedrooms. Given the modularity of the design we were able to distribute the modules throughout the building and site in a manner that responded not only to unit layouts but also to site conditions of natural light, passive security, and useable play and recreation areas. The ground floor footprint was limited to 475 sq.m. to allow for pedestrian and vehicular circulation as well as providing areas for leisure. The second floor footprint was expanded by almost 30% to 610 sq.m. to provide the required living space for the units. At the same time this expansion provides covered patios and perches scattered throughout the site for informal protection from the elements. The third floor footprint is reduced again to under 500 sq.m. which is a response to the need for natural light to penetrate the site while providing rooftop terraces for every unit. The exterior material of stucco was used as a blank canvas to allow the complex massing to read without becoming overwhelming with added texture. The windows then being the dominant feature of both the interior and exterior composition were, highlighted with custom welded aluminum cowlings powdercoated white and orange reflecting the the transition between the interior and exterior through the glazing threshold. The materials of the site are a mixture of concrete, paving stone, wood seating, and intentional specific areas of softness through vegetation.

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