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MASS TIMBER CENTRAL TO QUAYSIDE TORONTO

SIDEWALK LABS HAS UNVEILED DESIGN DETAILS OF THE BUILDING STOCK WITHIN ITS PROPOSED ‘SMART’ WATERFRONT CITY AT QUAYSIDE IN TORONTO, CANADA.

Subject to approval, the neighbourhood is planned to house 3000 residential units built using mass timber. Sidewalk Labs has appointed Vancouver-based timber specialist Michael Green Architecture (MGA), recently purchased by Katerra, to design the buildings.

If completed, the development, measuring three million square feet (over 900,000 square metres), will be the largest timber scheme of its kind in the world.

Details of the project were released during a briefing in mid-August. They include plans to encourage interface with Lake Ontario, street activation and outdoor activity. The scheme’s buildings will feature open air stoas to encourage pedestrian flow at ground level, while MGA has designed collapsible canopies to protect street users from Canada’s harsh climatic extremes.

Other proposed features include a modular paving system that can be rearranged according to need and provisions for autonomous vehicles.

Toronto currently limits mass timber buildings at six storeys, while it is understood Sidewalk Labs plans to build as high as 50 stories at Quayside.

Katerra’s acquisition of MGA, announced in late May, has been widely reported as heralding a new era for mass timber. Currently valued at $3 billion, Katerra has booked more than $1.3 billion in new projects, and has constructed an operational facility in Phoenix to manufacture its own material. The company’s vision is to be a vertically integrated venture spanning design, manufacturing and construction.
In early 2018, the Silicon Valley tech startup and construction industry disruptor received US$865 million in funding from the SoftBank Vision Fund, a venture capital firm that has invested in leading startups including Uber. It is understood some of these funds were used to purchase Michael Green Architecture.

Regarded as a leading exponent of tall timber construction, MGA has designed numerous tall timber buildings including the Wood Innovation and Design Centre in Vancouver.■


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