Asst. Prof. Jerry Hacker wins recognition in Toronto Affordable Housing Challenge
November 18, 2021
Assistant Professor and architect Jerry Hacker has won an Honourable Mention in an international design competition called the Toronto Affordable Housing Challenge.
The Toronto Affordable Housing Challenge is part of Bee Breeders’ Affordable Housing competition series. In partnership with ARCHHIVE BOOKS, this competition tasked participants with submitting innovative design proposals to tackle Toronto’s housing crisis.
The brief sought designs for a pilot-phase concept for affordable housing, which could be carried out within Toronto to increase its housing stock.
Hacker submitted a proposal, titled (Not) Another Toronto Tower, that merges transit, recreation, public space, housing, prefabrication and embraces the evolution of a typology over time. The units are designed to be completely modular and interchangeable, range in size and number of bedrooms, and can accommodate growing family sizes or extended families living together.
The development models for Toronto residential towers “tend to privilege traditional capitalist notions of private ownership, mortgage financing, and the nuclear family which are all evolving,” he writes in the accompanying text.
“Increasingly, the results are smaller unit sizes that cost more and a narrow focus of what affects one’s ability to live by affordable means (short and long term) in a city,” he writes.
“(Not) Another Toronto Tower questions this methodology, instead searching for a new model where public investments in city infrastructure are coupled with investments in city-building and housing.”
The competition attracted 110 entries from around the world. A regional and international interdisciplinary jury panel selected three top winners plus a student winner. Hacker was among six entrants to receive an Honourable Mention.
Hacker’s project is an example of research through design. In addition to teaching at the Azrieli School of Architecture & Urbanism, Hacker founded the practice hACT (hacker Architecture Collaboration Technique) in 2020, where he is the sole proprietor.
“The hope is to focus on people and issues, not projects per se, and see every undertaking (regardless of scale or typology) as an opportunity to fight for something or someone,” he told Bee Breeders in a published interview.
“This is something all projects can have in common, and it has been the focus of what little the firm has been fortunate enough to work on to date.
(NOT) ANOTHER TORONTO TOWER
Text by Jerry Hacker
In Toronto, residential towers are used as public, private, and hybrid initiatives to provide innovative construction and financing solutions for affordable housing, but the models tend to privilege traditional capitalist notions of private ownership, mortgage financing, and the nuclear family, which are all evolving.
Increasingly, the results are smaller unit sizes that cost more and a narrow focus of what affects one’s ability to live by affordable means (short and long term) in a city.
Under this guidance, the projects cannot address the myriad of factors that contribute to affordable living in a major urban centre, such as public transit, local neighbourhood economies, growth and change of family size over time, extended family living opportunities, innovative construction methodologies, access to nearby community resources, and minimizing day-to-day operating costs – all of which impact a city dweller’s disposable income.
(Not) Another Toronto Tower questions this methodology, instead searching for a new model where public investments in city infrastructure are coupled with investments in city-building and housing. The proposal merges transit, recreation, public space, housing, prefabrication and embraces the evolution of a typology over time – one that grows as people grow; one that is added to when the time is right; one that is focused on public space and the collective domain; and one that is focused on the curious, unusual, fantastical, and magical meetings between people and the spaces we inhabit.
UNIT DIVERSITY = COMMUNITY DIVERSITY
Designed to be completely modular and interchangeable, units range in size, number of bedrooms, and the ability to accommodate growing family sizes or extended families living together. The prefabrication process is based around standard modules of millwork, windows, sliding doors, cladding, and even the structural system and supporting balconies all of which focus on lowering the cost of each unit through repetition and predictability. The units can also be added to the overall framework over a period of time, introducing more units as more funding or resources are acquired by potential owners.
COMPREHENSIVE COMMUNITY INFRASTRUCTURE PLANNING + DESIGN
Rather than allowing the new Light Rail Transit line to be developed independently of other city initiatives such as affordable housing, the project proposes to radically collapse these uses on the site, thereby creating a place where people can live, work, recreate and build a community through enhanced social cohesion that responds to the full spectrum of requirements that make housing affordable (including immediate access to local community amenities such as grocery stores, clinics, daycares, recreation centres, libraries, community centres).
TYPICAL FLOOR PLANS
Although completely modularized, the floor plans provide a high degree of variation within an overall theme. The units also offer differing degrees of interior social space, but all units provide daylight to all spaces, cross ventilation to all spaces, private and public balcony space, and all units are universally accessible.
46 sq. m. (500 sq. ft.)
50 sq. m. (540 sq. ft.)
56 sq. m. (600 sq. ft.)
67 sq. m. (720 sq. ft.)
79 sq. m. (850 sq. ft.)
93 sq. m. (1,000 sq. ft.)
50 – 150 sq. m. (500 sq. ft. – 1,500 sq. ft.)
02 – 06 Bedrooms
A PREFAB MODULAR DESIGN
1. Cross Laminated Timber Structure
2. Pre-cast Concrete Sandwich Panel Base (Services + Lifting)
3. Standardized Copper Panels (300mm + 600mm widths)
4. Standardized Adjustable Perforated Copper Screen
5. Standardized Window Wall and Glass Guardrail
6. Standardized Window Sizes (based on copper module)
7. Standardized Door Canopies
8. Standardized Pre-Cast Balcony (Structural Support)
9. Continuously Insulated High-Performance Envelope
10. Standardized Millwork