King Street Live Work Grow, 2014
Description —
The Live/Work/Grow project re-imagines a deep, narrow site in the north end of Halifax, Nova Scotia. It is located within an eclectic and somewhat forgotten part of the city defined by leftover industrial, derelict residential, and start up commercial. Prior to the Center Plan being adopted it was one area of city that encouraged urban diversity. Neighbors include the city crematorium, a print shop, gym, flotation centre, several breweries and restaurants, a recycling depot, landscaping companies, multiple automobile repair shops, a coffee roaster, low income multi-units, and the sparse remnants of row-housing from the early 1900s. This project advocates for maintaining and enriching this mosaic in the neighborhood by increasing density and livability while also promoting a flexible architecture that accommodates change over time. 
Simple volumes continue the rhythm and scale of the street while cantilevered boxes provide access to the rear unit. The vernacular side-hall plan is stretched across the 100’ x 25’ lot to form two separate live/work units. They share a central courtyard connected by a glass link. It is this linkage that permits programmatic and spatial flexibility. It enables the commercial and residential spaces within the units to contract or expand into one another based upon the viability of the businesses and ever-changing family circumstances as children mature and parents age—the space evolves with the lives of the occupants. Gardens are integrated throughout the whole project to offer respite within this largely unvegetated part of the city and to support the cultivation of vegetables and flowers.
Building code regulations dictate a plan with minimal glazing on the side-yard property lines and the need for non-combustible cladding and materials. The shared laneway easement to the north of the property reduces the ground floor plan by four feet determining the need for a cantilevered piano nobile. The board-form concrete and corrugated metal complement the language of the surrounding industrial sheds and work within the budget constraints of the project. Used as both structure and finished material, the concrete slabs provide thermal mass for passive solar energy received during the afternoon and morning enabling the project to use time-of-day electrical metering. Wood decks, soffits and stairs unfold throughout the building, creating planters on the roof and flowerbeds at grade. 
Conventional spaces within the house are reconsidered. Children’s bedrooms are conceived as compact private cubbies with sliding doors, like sleeper cars on a train, offering small, cozy spaces for sleep that close up when not occupied. The courtyard functions as a sheltered winter parking space, play area, outdoor workspace, and flower garden. Every part of the plan is accessible, with growing areas on all the roofs. 
On a macro level, this project re-imagines the limiting site conditions typically found in Halifax – namely, long and narrow Victorian lots – and creates a new mixed use urban typology based on a modern rendition of the side hall plan. Stretching the form across the site allows daylight into the plan and ground-floor access to multiple units through an inner courtyard. Layering dwelling, working, and cultivation into this tight city lot suggests ways of recalibrating our cities to increase flexibility, density, diversity, and delight.
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