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Award of Merit, Canadian Architect Awards of Excellence in 2005

Award of Excellence, Interprovincial Prairie Design Awards, 2008

Comments by the jury:

Oulette: Canadian cities suffer from a lack of affordable, contemporary townhome designs. This project breaks that trend with seven articulated unit designs that together create a small urban street.

Provencher: What struck me here was the conceptual audacity of this small condominium project. The downtown site is extremely narrow and challenging, yet the architects have created an interesting concept that offers three-storey units with exterior terraces. webbsite is a demonstration of the importance and necessity of good architecture for an urban condominium project to succeed.

Taylor: The architects have outlined a clear mandate of goals to provide an innovative solution to affordable infill housing. This project is commendable for its thoughtful and thorough development at many levels – from a macro strategy for reclaiming derelict urban spaces, to the details of an elegant low – cost construction system.

In late 2004 North Portage Development Corporation started, with the webbsite project, a downtown initiative to develop small-scale condominiums in areas which the private sector sees as difficult or unrealistic for market-driven development. This pioneer project was built within the same constraints as private sector projects, and demonstrates the viability of downtown “edge” neighbourhoods for market housing. Profits from the development are to be re-invested by the client in comparable downtown projects.

webbsite is a 7-unit urban condominium project located between the existing Booth College and Raleigh apartment complex in downtown Winnipeg.

The first challenge for the project was the narrow 50’ x 130’ urban lot. The objective was to complete the urban edge at the street while ensuring sufficient access and pleasant views and outdoor spaces for all units. The aggressive siting along the length of the lot keeps the unit footprint shallow and allows natural light to penetrate deep into the units. Each dwelling has a ground level entry from the newly created through street – the mews. The scale and fit of the building, the new street and rhythmic massing of the upper storeys creates a unique pedestrian scale and anchors webbsite to its place in the City.

In order to expand and maximize the available building area, the 7 units and 4 “Flex” spaces are nestled together enabling each loft volume to be 18 feet wide. With the addition of the Flex spaces at grade level, the living area at the first floor expands to 34 feet. In the upper units, the loft space opens into terraces which face a treed canopy.

The concept of the 300 square foot Flex space enabled open-ended marketing for the 2-3 storey units responding to a variety of needs. Each Flex space has a separate title allowing the resale or rental of the Flex space as separate office or commercial units or as part of the main dwellings. When purchased together with a main unit the Flex space becomes a home office, an additional bedroom, or a connected suite with a private entrance.

The modest project budget dictated a need for an envelope system that would challenge the economy of stucco. The exterior is clad in 2 foot-wide precut cementitious panels of varying heights, secured in place with custom extruded aluminum clips. The result is a sheer run of linear boards with a self-generating pattern of clips. The reveals between the boards structure and break up large wall surfaces and reveal in-fill facing around windows mediating between the rigid geometry of the wall panels and the more haptic window pattern.