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Re-Wood Housing. Self-sustaining ecovillage project in Canada

Dobrawa Bies
21 of September '22

Dominika Bezulska, Sebastian Kawalec and Adam Struski, architecture students from Wroclaw University of Technology, have designed a self-sustainable ecovillage that could be built in Canada. Their Re-Wood Housing project participated in the Vancouver Affordable Housing Challenge international competition and was shortlisted for the competition.

The competition was organized by the Bulidner platform in partnership with ARCHHIVE BOOKS. Participants were tasked with proposing a flexible, innovative pilot concept for affordable housing near Vancouver, Canada.

Widok ekowioski

ecovillage in Canada

© Dominika Bezulska, Sebastian Kawalec, Adam Struski

housing problems in Vancouver

As the contest rules read - in addition to rising interest rates and limited living space putting pressure on Vancouver's housing market, the city is also constrained by zoning regulations. These regulations prevent the construction of most types of housing - except for single-family homes in many areas of the city. For this, the organizers of the competition asked people to propose projects that would contribute tosolving the housing crisis. They encouraged the submission of flexible solutions tailored to different users, including families, single professionals and couples. The jury was looking for projects that challenge typical housing, design and social ideas, while retaining a practical element that could potentially make these projects possible.

Wioska przystosowana jest do różnych wymagań mieszkańców

The proposed village is adapted to the different requirements of residents

© Dominika Bezulska, Sebastian Kawalec, Adam Struski

project from Poland on the competition shortlist

The entries submitted from all over the world were evaluated by a Canadian jury consisting of: Marianne Amodio (MA+HG), Nicky Bruun-Meyer (architect, co-publisher of The Site Magazine), Prof. Avi Friedman (Avi Friedman Consultants), Bryan He (Gair Williamson Architects), Melissa Higgs (HCMA Architecture + Design, UBC School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture), Tom Schroeder (Patkau Architects), Surabhi Shakkarwar (Boniface Oleksiuk Politano Architects). The jury awarded 1st Prize to the Laneway Village project by a team from the USA consisting of Xian chris Li, Elitsa Vutova, Nadthachai Kongkhajornkidsuk. Second Prize went to the Living Trails proposal by a team of architects from Canada, consisting of: Christopher Doray, Piotr Pasierbinski, Yekta Tehrani, Lukas Vajda, and the Third Prize tall trees, tall houses project by Martin Chowa, also from Canada. Six honorable mentions were also awarded and the competition shortlist was announced, among which was the Re-Wood Housing project by Dominika Bezulska, Sebastian Kawalec and Adam Struski of Wroclaw University of Technology.

Projekt Re-Wood Housing, aksonometria

Re-Wood Housing project, axonometry

© Dominika Bezulska, Sebastian Kawalec, Adam Struski

ecovillage in Canada

The study site is located in Wakefield, Canada. In a rural area, students of Wroclaw University of Technology designed an ecovillage consisting of a complex of residential clusters and outbuildings.

The goal of our work was to create a self-sustaining residential structure that would provide year-round living. The guidelines of the competition we faced were to create low-cost housing for the diverse needs of the residents. The units should be easily adaptable, changeable, and flexible in shaping functional layouts so that everyone feels comfortable there, the authors explain.

Projekt Re-Wood Housing, przekrój krajobrazowy

Re-Wood Housing, landscape cross-section

© Dominika Bezulska, Sebastian Kawalec, Adam Struski

Around the forest located on the plot, the students led footpaths that create organic forms. On the northern side of the plot they placed farm and livestock buildings, next pastures for sheep, orchards and apiaries for bees. Next are home fields with greenhouses and clusters of dwellings. To the south are farm fields with a water reservoir collecting water from canals located on the plot.

When planning the layout of functions on the plot, we were guided by the welfare of the residents and the environment. We wanted our structures not to be alien to nature, to be created in the spirit of sustainable development. Good lighting of the rooms and proper zoning of the functions in the buildings to the directions of the world were extremely important to us," the young architects add.

Projekt Re-Wood Housing, schemat zabudowy gospodarczej

scheme of economic development

© Dominika Bezulska, Sebastian Kawalec, Adam Struski

self-sufficient settlement

The selected plot included old buildings - a century-old barn, a chicken coop and a farmhouse. The Polish team decided to expose and adapt the barn into a place for integration of residents. They placed there a marketplace for local products, a meeting place where residents can cook and spend time together, and a reading room. The chicken coop gained a larger form to accommodate more animals. The village house became the home of the village manager.

We have additionally planned a tourist information office there, so that visitors can get additional information about the village, learn more about how the ecovillage works, and be inspired to build their own ecological habitats, the students add.

Projekt Re-Wood Housing, fragment rzutu wioski rojekt Re-Wood Housing, schemat typów klastrów

The housing is divided into six types

© Dominika Bezulska, Sebastian Kawalec, Adam Struski

Residential developments are divided into six types. There are nine houses on the plot, with twenty-eight apartments. The proposed village is designed for sixty-nine residents - with the possibility of developing the structure with additional units. The masses of the buildings have been shaped in such a way as to use the terraces for home growing, so the authors have used green roofs.

Widok na klastry mieszkalne od strony drogi wewnętrznej

View of the residential clusters from the side of the internal road

© Dominika Bezulska, Sebastian Kawalec, Adam Struski

Re-Wood Housing

The designers also decided to use pile foundations for the buildings. As they claim, this solution allows ventilation from underneath, and also allows water to flow freely under the building, thus there is very little interference with the environment.

Projekt Re-Wood Housing, przekroje jednego z budynków

The buildings are set on stilts

© Dominika Bezulska, Sebastian Kawalec, Adam Struski

All of the buildings were designed with a wood post structure made of recycled material. The structure visible on the facades is also the main structure of the building. As the authors say - wooden walls insulated with cellulose granules make the building easy, inexpensive to construct and use for the comfort of the residents, and, importantly, environmentally friendly.

Projekt Re-Wood Housing, typy budynków rojekt Re-Wood Housing, typ budynków

all buildings have been designed with a wooden post structure

© Dominika Bezulska, Sebastian Kawalec, Adam Struski

Perovskite cells were used in the glazing design to generate electricity. In addition, a biogas plant was introduced on the plot. Thanks to these systems, the village obtains electricity in an ecological way and is self-sufficient in energy. In addition, on the terraces we designed rainwater tanks for watering plants and using as gray water in the building.


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