Half Studio

ARC3020Y F
Instructor(s): Kelly Alvarez Doran
Meeting Section: L0109
Tuesday, 9:00am - 1:00pm, 2:00pm - 6:00pm

How do we half the greenhouse gas emissions of the GTHA’s building stock this decade?

Last year we began answering this complex question by establishing a deeper understanding of the current state of residential construction to first answer “half of what?” The results of this research has been published nationally and has led to working directly with the City of Toronto to establish embodied carbon benchmarks for future Part 3 construction.

This year will serve as a counterpoint. We will interrogate the broad assumptions that mass timber is a more sustainable, lower-carbon form of construction. Over the course of the fall term students will perform “cradle-to-gate” assessments of in progress or recently completed commercial and academic mass timber projects from across the GTHA and other northern climates. By broadening the study we aim to expand the conversation beyond Ontario to understand how local cultures of design, construction and supply impact global emissions, labour, and ecosystems. Students will engage leading practices to understand the design and material drivers of each project, and utilize Life Cycle Assessment tools to calculate the embodied impacts associated with each project.

Second, we will explore the provenance of Ontario’s wood construction. What are the supply chains that extract, harvest and transform wood-based construction materials? What is the geography, ecology, and forms of labour that they engage from cradle to grate? Is wood sustainable?

Finally, students will build upon this research and propose unique approaches to the demands for non-residential space in the GTHA to illustrate how new construction, retro-fit, and re-use - in wood - can address the question of half. What is the future form of construction in the region? How can we begin designing for circularity and re-use? How can architecture be climate positive?

To support this work the studio will travel to visit a forestry operation(s), and a mass timber supplier in the fall. In the winter term, should restrictions allow, we will travel to the UK and/or Sweden to visit mass timber projects, large scale wood manufacturing facilities.

My on-site presence will be at a minimum of 8 weeks over the course of the year, with the remaining weeks being done virtually. Studio sessions will be supported by a series of guest lectures throughout the year from industry leaders, and regular guest critics - in person and virtually.