Concrete-slab residential apartment towers built during the post-World War II housing boom were once iconic images of modernity across Europe and North America. Today, many of these aging towers sit isolated from their surrounding neighbourhoods, housing an increasingly marginalized population of low income residents and recent immigrants. Most lack access to jobs, rapid transit, community services and other neighbourhood amenities associated with livable communities. Their deteriorating structures are one of the most energy inefficient forms of housing in the country.
In 2010, the firm, in partnership with ERA Architects and the Cities Centre at the University of Toronto, published a ground-breaking study of Apartment Towers in the Greater Golden Horseshoe region of southern Ontario. Using extensive GIS-based analysis, aerial photography, and on-site analysis, the study identified 1,925 Apartment Towers in the region. Collectively they house approximately one million people. The study also examined the neighbourhood context of these towers. A social need index was created to assess the relationship between Apartment Towers and areas of social need. Transportation data was analyzed to assess mobility patterns of Apartment Tower residents. Local and international studies and best practices were reviewed to estimate energy use and greenhouse gas emissions associated with Apartment Towers. The distribution of Apartment Towers was compared with land use characteristics to identify potential for infill and the introduction of mixed uses. The study also examined several international precedents of Tower Neighbourhood Renewal – and discusses areas where a similar program could help to meet a number of public policy objectives in the Greater Golden Horseshoe related to poverty reduction, greenhouse gas reduction, urban intensification, the creation of complete communities, and increasing transit ridership.
The full report can be downloaded here.