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Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.

UJA Federation Community Complex in Ontario, Canada BY ARK

 
July 19th, 2013 by Sumit Singhal

Article source: ARK

Canadian architecture firm ARK has [won the/been highly commended …. by the International Academy for Design & Health…] in three separate categories: Mental Health Design and Interior Design, for the Centre for Addition and Mental Health’s (CAMH) Village Family Health Team, and International Salutogenic Design for the UJA Federation Community Complex.

Image Courtesy © Tom Arban Photography

  • Architects: ARK
  • Project: UJA Federation Community Complex
  • Location: Ontario, Canada
  • Photography: Tom Arban and Shai Gil
  • Client: UJA Federation of Greater Toronto and Mount Sinai Hospital
  • ARK Scope: Community Engagement, Masterplan, Urban Design, Architecture, Interior Design, Graphic Design
  • Engineers: LKM, Hammerschlag Joffe, RJC
  • Contractors: Vanbots/Carrilion, Greenferd, Buttcon
  • Area of project: 365,000sf

Image Courtesy © Tom Arban Photography

Located in Vaughan Ontario, the Community Complex was commissioned by the UJA Federation of Greater Toronto and funded through the generosity of community leaders including Joseph & Wolf Lebovic, Gerald Schwartz & Heather Reisman, Maxine Granovsky & Ira Gluskin, The Sharp Family, Leo & Sala Goldhar, the Province of Ontario and Government of Canada.

Image Courtesy © Tom Arban Photography

It has been designed to unite and create synergies between a broad array of community based services including child and health care, sports and recreation, arts and culture, and community and spirituality. ARK has consolidated these diverse agencies within a highly transparent 365,000 sq ft, three storey complex that links four built masses via a pedestrian streetscape.

Image Courtesy © Tom Arban Photography

Central to the design was the desire to support the community from early childhood to old age and the requirement to create a complex that connected people regardless of gender, abilities, ethnic background and social standing. The architect achieved this by partnering services (childcare with fitness classes, Mount Sinai Hospital clinical health care with swimming, language classes with art studios, etc.) and designing a high degree of transparency into the buildings.

Image Courtesy © Shai Gil Photography

ARK Principal, Guela Solow-Ruda, explains: “We felt that the goal of the architecture was to make meaningful connections between the diverse uses. Transparency was the solution: views and vistas between the building and the surrounding neighbourhood, and between varying community groups build bonds and create a sense of community that crosses perceived boundaries of age, race or gender.”

Image Courtesy © Tom Arban Photography

“This integrated experience, in which health and wellness are naturally woven into the pattern of daily living, is the largest factor supporting a community’s wellness.”
ARK achieves these connections via a design that brings urbanity to suburban Toronto through diversity, while maintaining a contextual scale. The programmatic complexity of the scheme draws in users from all parts of the surrounding residential communities. Its easy-to-follow north/south, east/west pedestrian circulation creates a busy thoroughfare amidst the predominantly glazed buildings in which visitors are partaking in physical, cultural, artistic and spiritual endeavours or utilizing heath and childcare facilities.

Image Courtesy © Tom Arban Photography

“By understanding the needs of the community we were able to combine requirements to create an urban experience, based upon the holistic vision of a well community.” says Solow-Ruda. “Our role as architects and urban designers was to listen to the community and give expression to its voice in built form.”

Image Courtesy © Tom Arban Photography

The complex is the culmination of 14 years of intense collaboration between the architect and the UJA Federation of Greater Ontario. It opened in the fall of 2012 and all agencies are now operational.
“The daycare and summer camp are full, and the fitness and wellness programs have exceeded membership expectations,” says Solow-Ruda. “We understand that the community complex has been a development catalyst and property prices in the surrounding area have risen sharply since its construction.”

Image Courtesy © Tom Arban Photography

Speaking about the award [win/nomination], Solow-Ruda says: “This is recognition that our work to re-define the paradigm of a healthy community is having an international impact. It means that the question of what defines health and the role architecture can play in implementation is now relevant.”

Image Courtesy © Shai Gil Photography

The Design & Health International Academy Awards is the world’s leading advocacy programme, recognizing professional excellence in the research and practice of designing healthy environments. Held this year on July 13th, in Brisbane Australia, during the 9th Design & Health World Congress & Exhibition, the Awards were judged by a panel of independent multidisciplinary experts within both research and practice from around the world. The winners of each award were determined by a lead judge, supported three judges with expertise in their field.
Commenting on the UJA Federation Community Complex, lead judge, XXXXXXXX, said: “………….”
The UJA Federation Community Complex was shortlisted alongside: the Potter Street Redevelopment, commissioned by Wintringham and Wallara, and designed by Allen Kong Architect, in Dandenong Australia; and RFBI Basin View Masonic Village Aquaponic Garden in New South Wales Australia, which was commissioned by Royal Freemasons’ Benevolent Institution, and designed by Paul Van der Werf of Earthan Group.

Image Courtesy © Tom Arban Photography

ARK
Committed specifically to the needs of the non-profit world, ARK expands the limits of architectural design to integrate a wide range of related services including donor recognition and fundraising, functional program development and spatial needs analysis, branding, way-finding and graphic design.

Image Courtesy © ARK

The firm is renowned internationally and in Canada, receiving accolades such as the International Academy of Design & Health Awards for ……….[include 2013 wins]……. and “Use of Art in the Patient Environment” (2011) and High Commendations for……….[include 2013 commendations]…… and International Interior Design (2011); Ontario Association of Architects Award of Excellence (2011, 2006, 2004); the City of Vaughan Urban Design Award (2005); and the National Post Design Exchange Award (2004). ARK’s portfolio includes a wide range of architectural schemes and master plans in diverse sectors including health and wellness, housing, urban design, community and recreation, and education and daycare.

Image Courtesy © ARK

Licensed to practice across Canada, the ARK team has LEED Certification and believes that building consensus amongst complex stakeholder groups, and engaging community and municipal/regional authorities are central to the design methodology.

Image Courtesy © ARK

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