Architecture for Humanity Toronto Launches Lecture Series: “Incremental Strategies for Vertical Neighborhoods”

Courtesy of Toronto

According to the most recent national census in Canada, almost half of Toronto residents are immigrants, one-third of whom arrived in the past ten years. To allow the city to adapt to this surging flow of immigrants, Architecture for Humanity Toronto (AFHTO) has called upon students and professionals from various backgrounds to rethink Toronto’s urban fabric – and, in particular, its high-rise developments – by establishing a series of lectures and workshops entitled “Incremental Strategies for Vertical Neighborhoods.”

At the inaugural event a few weeks ago, Filipe Balestra of Urban Nouveau* was invited to speak about his work and contribute to a design charrette inspired by the City of Toronto’s program. For more on Balestra and the event, keep reading after the break.

Incremental Housing Strategy in India / Filipe Balestra & Sara Göransson

Aerial collage: the new archipelago of incremented kaccha houses rising from a context of well built permanent homes in a typical slum.

The problem with social housing has been how to give the most with less money. We have very good examples in Europe, but the constrains are way different than the ones in developing countries. In these countries, almost all the constructions are done by anyone but architects. Clearly, in these countries architects can do something way better than just designing or constructing, developing strategies together with communities to achieve housing solutions that not only address today´s necessities, but that can also be extended over time as families grow, once again by themselves and without architects.

A good example on this is Elemental, lead by Alejandro Aravena, which has been changing not only design aspects of social housing, but also public policy. Currently, they have built and on going projects in Chile, Mexico and more countries.

But also, there´s the work that Filipe Balestra and Sara Göransson have been doing in , invited by  Sheela Patel and Jockin Arputham from SPARC to develop an Incremental Housing Strategy that could be implemented anywhere.