Intensification and Purpose-Built Rentals In TorontoPosted on September 26, 2023
150 The Donway West and 4 Overland Drive, located in the Don Mills area of North York, is a perfect example of the intensification necessary to meet the increased housing demand resulting from high population inflow to the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and the unaffordability of homeownership in Ontario. Akelius plans to build up the existing two-building site by adding two new residential market-rate rental buildings, as shown in Figure 1 below.
Figure 1. Rendering of the proposed development, looking northeast from Paperbirch Drive (Diamond Schmitt Architects)
Diamond and Schmitt designed the two new mid-rise buildings to complement the existing structures by incorporating a brick similar to that used in the existing rental buildings. They then enhanced the façade with glass and white metallic features while maintaining the boxy shape to integrate old and new aesthetics fully. The project also involves the addition of two underground parking levels and a central courtyard, so not only would this project target the undersupplied rental market while providing transit accessibility, but it would also improve the ground level and below-grade conditions of the existing site with soft and hard landscaping.
Windtech was pleased to provide the pedestrian wind environment study for the site as a part of the requirements set forth by the City of Toronto for site plan approval. Ellen Marejka, an Associate Director of Windtech’s Toronto Office remarks, “As you can imagine, wind contributes to human comfort and can impact everyday activities whether it be waiting at a bus stop or sitting on a park bench. The wind comfort, and even thermal comfort, of outdoor public spaces, is crucial to the functionality of the overall design. A pedestrian-level wind study strives to address any of these wind concerns at the site before any groundbreaking or actual construction occurs. This is done by ensuring the wind conditions on and around the site are within acceptable comfort criteria throughout all seasons”.
But what triggers the need for a pedestrian wind study?
Toronto classifies the need based on the location of the development and the height of the building. Generally speaking, the taller the building, the greater the need. The City accepts two types of wind studies: wind tunnel studies (which was the approach in this project) or computational fluid dynamics modelling (which Windtech also offers).
With the help of the architect and developer, Windtech created a digital model of the study buildings and the “proximity model” or “surrounds” (both terms are used to describe the surrounding environment, shown in grey in the figure below).
Figure 2: The digital 3D surround model of the site looking north, with the proposed development shown in blue.
Once the digital model was created, a physical model was fabricated out of foam using computer-aided manufacturing. Pressure sensors were installed at the ground-level locations, and each location was classified based on Table 1 below. The model was placed on a turntable in one of our four wind tunnels and tested at the prescribed number of wind directions. There were two testing scenarios completed: the existing site conditions without the proposed development and the site conditions with the proposed development.
Figure 3: The 3D surround model of the site in the wind tunnel looking north, with the proposed development constructed with blue foam.
The results of the wind tunnel study were compared to the comfort criteria in Table 1. For the most part, the results were within acceptable limits. However, where the comfort criteria were exceeded, and a location was deemed too windy, Windtech proposed mitigation measures to alleviate the wind effects. This includes a 3m awning to span the south and western corners of the 150 The Donway West building and densely foliating evergreen landscaping features in the courtyard region. These mitigation features would reduce the wind to an acceptable level while having the least possible impact on the architectural design or aesthetic features.
Table 1: Wind Criteria for Pedestrian Comfort and Safety (City of Toronto, 2022)
There is a growing need for more purpose-built rental developments in the GTA like the one proposed by Akelius. As mentioned by Shaun Hildebrand from Urbanation: “The GTA rental market remained substantially undersupplied during the first quarter of 2023. Even though supply is set to increase in the near-term, it is expected to be short-lived and insufficient to offset demand.” While this two-building development proposes the addition of much needed 242 rental units, there are bigger plans to develop and intensify the Don Mills area to meet population demands. Currently, there are ten development applications within a 1-kilometre radius as shown in Figure 4.
Figure 4: Development applications in the Don Mills area surrounding the proposed site (from submission to the City of Toronto).
Windtech is happy to announce that we have opened an office in Toronto to serve our clients in the GTA better. We offer wind environment studies wind tunnel studies (like this one), or CFD studies for new developments in accordance with the city requirements. This type of wind study is required for site plan approval in most urban municipalities in southwestern Ontario.
If you are working on any projects that could benefit from the capabilities presented in this article, please reach out to our regional offices Sydney & Melbourne, Australia, London, UK, and Mumbai, India. New York & Miami, USA, Toronto, Canada, Dubai, Hong Kong & Singapore, we guarantee to support you wherever you are based.
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