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Site: Ford City, Windsor Ontario
School: St.Clair College
Course: Drafting and Design Housing and Mixed-use Development (ARC601A)
Professor: William Rawlings
The following blOAAg posts feature a research project by St. Clair College students, which raised the question of “how might a mixed-use affordable housing development help bridge the gap between two neighborhoods and better create an understanding on how to incorporate affordable market rate housing into a development as a standard for new construction?”
The student’s investigation aims to rejuvenate a community surrounded by some of Ontario’s largest industrial blight. Ford City was once a thriving sector within the City of Windsor that is now plagued by social disconnect and urban decay.
The proposed 50 acre site is hemmed in on all sides making it difficult to revitalize the area and sustain development. Located just to the east is an engine plant owned by Ford Motor Company of Canada. The plant acts as a barrier extending northerly to the Detroit River. While to the east of the site is a sprawling and segmented light industrial and commercial zone that separates Ford City from the historic Walkerville district, an affluent heritage precinct developed by Hiram Walkers in the late 1800s. Today Walkerville is a key example of a thriving, diverse, walkable community. Located immediately to the south are lightly used rail lines that once acted as a lifeline to more industrial properties. In the middle of all this, is the proposed site tied to a small community with a rich industrial past that is struggling to survive. Consequently, Ford City illustrates a clear disconnect from the city’s flourishing neighborhoods.
Thus, it becomes unacceptable to merely abandon the community. Instead, in an attempt to heal the area, students were directed to seek both planning and architectural opportunities to merge the fragmented neighbourhoods and unify the varying demographics.
Student’s research raised the question “how might a mixed-use affordable housing development help bridge the gap between the two neighbourhoods and better create an understanding on how to incorporate affordable market rate housing into a development as a standard for new construction?” Therefore, the ultimate goal became to breathe new life into the existing urban fabric and increase density in a blighted context.
Solution from students: