Adaptive reuse projects maintain connections to our past while conserving resources through the reuse of materials. Depending on location and use, they can also benefit communities by revitalizing neighborhoods. The Artscape Wychwood Barns project in Toronto is one such case. The Wychwood barns were built early in the 20th century as repair and maintenance facilities for Toronto’s streetcars, functioning in that capacity until the 1980s. Now, fruit trees, a playground and parkland surround renovated barns, mediating between this large facility and the small-scale residential buildings in the neighborhood.
The Wychwood barns presented an opportunity for The Stop Community Food Centre to adapt to a new neighborhood for the first time. It is now a major tenant in the Barns, occupying one full barn as a sustainable food production and education centre. The Green Barn contains a management office adjacent to the 280 m2 greenhouse designed for sustainable year-round food production. Nearby is a compost area, an industrial kitchen that opens to a gathering/event space and a sheltered outdoor court containing a masonry bake-oven, fruit trees and more sensitive large plants. The greenhouse is a state-of-the-art facility which maximizes natural light, with computer-controlled windows for venting, and drip-watering systems.
The center has become a magnet for social exchanges, a hub for the surrounding area. In the Artscape Wychwood barns, community engagement is enabled by designing spaces for growing, processing, and selling food, which is central to the redesign of the Barns and has led to its success.
DESIGNERS: du Toit Allsopp Hillier, du Toit Architects, Artscape, The Stop Community Food Center
EDITOR’S NOTE: This project demonstrates how adaptive reuse can provide opportunities for urban agriculture to acquire necessary infrastructure in the city.