Project File: Comfortable living

Before construction of the East Student Residence at the University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada, the university's housing structure was a 1970s high-rise, flanked by mid-rise residence halls, all reclad in corrugated aluminum siding because the original brick was falling off. The new $37 million residence was conceived of as a sequence of townhouses, and it harnesses town-planning principles of European city squares to foster security and community.

The two- and three-story walk-up townhouses have front doors that open onto a porch or colonnade. Most of the 164 units also have a rear door with a small patio. Each unit includes a kitchen, dining area, living room, washroom and single bedrooms. There are two, four, five and six-bedroom units in a variety of layouts, including eight suites with barrier-free access.

A typical unit has bedrooms on the upper floors and measures 1,356 square feet. The cultured-stone cladding at the base of the townhouses visually echoes the limestone in campus buildings. There are subtle changes from block to block. Some roofs are pedimented; others have vaulted arches. Inside the perimeter defined by the townhouses are courtyards, colonnades, pedestrian ways and common areas.

The architect is The Ventin Group Ltd., Architects (Cambridge, Ontario).

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