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C40 Reinventing Cities

Montreal, QC
Figurr architects collective has worked in tight collaboration with local and international professionals, such as, Arup, White Arkitekter, Convercité, Bâtir son quartier, Atelier Créatif, ÉAU, and the developper Rachel Julien, to propose the Canoë project. Canoë is a residential carbon neutral neighbourhood comprised of buildings between 13 and 25 stories tall which house 501 living units. The project takes place in the Ville-Marie borough on the border of the Griffintown district, near downtown Montreal and on the edge of the Lachine Canal.

A vector of change in the metropolis

The main idea behind the project developed for the C40 Reinventing Cities international contest is to develop a neighbourhood that offers an integrated and sustainable community living space housing multiple services and uses such as, community gardens, daycares, artisan’s area and an aquaponic farm. The project is thought out in such a way as to allow users to live, work and entertain themselves in that space. Canoë wants to be a vector for change, linking humans to their environment and proposes a healthy and sustainable rapport between it and the ecosystems that support it.

The team has put into practice concrete strategies using sustainable construction materials, harvesting and recycling of rainwater, optimal management of residual and organic wastes as well as greater use of public transportation.

Inspired by sustainable development measurement tools developed by the United Nations, the Canoë project proposes an 82% reduction of the ecological footprint compared to regular constructions.

Rethinking outdoor spaces

The notion of accessibility to green spaces additionally guided the creation team in the development of this project. Green roofs and terraces, exterior landscaping around and in between the living buildings, a play area for children, the project is thought out to combat heat islands and diminish recourse to air conditioning all the while favouring contact between humans and nature. The approach is educative all the while sensitizing residents to the richness of indigenous plants and encouraging them to participate in their preservation.

A few steps between the harvest and the plate

The project includes the creation of an aquaponic and vertical farm capable of generating a large quantity of local foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and fish 365 days a year. These farms considerably reduce the greenhouse gas emissions linked to the importing of food and traveling for the residents to get the food.

The Canoë project additionally puts forth the principles of a circular economy which rests on rethinking our production and consumption methods to consume less resources and optimize the use of the ones already there. Thus, the project emphasizes the creation of business opportunities and sharing, by dedicating for example, the ground floor to housing tours, artisan presence and local entrepreneurs. The imagined area is lined with various shops, a pedestrian street including an Allée des Artistes, a space for artistic distribution and performances, as well as a Fab lab community workshop where residents can have a common creative area and have access to a tool rental service.

Finally, the Canoë project is a lot more than a residential neighbourhood, it is proof that it is possible to construct carbon neutral towns for our benefit and that of future generations.