A Warmer Place: a warming table for those living with homelessness
Since the winter 2021, the site of the Thunderbird House on Main Street has been undergoing great change. Copper roof tiles were stolen from the community building, forcing its closure and the installation of a protective fence. The Sharing Circle (Warming Huts 2021) was removed in this process as it could no longer be operated without TbH’s supervision. A new public washroom is under construction, so is a new transitional housing project. With all these changes, the local homeless have been again displaced, and the site is currently in disarray. With the upcoming opening of the public washroom there is an opportunity to revitalize the site through a new landscape treatment, a potential new gathering space. We proposed the 2022 Faculty of Architecture Warming Hut on this site as the seed for this new gathering space.
Don’t try to drive the homeless into places we find suitable. Help them survive in places they find suitable.–Daniel Quinn
Through a series of conversations, consultations and exchanges we were able to gather a strong group of collaborative agents to tackle the challenge of the Thunderbird House site through the design-build initiative of the Warming Hut. The complexity of both site, program, and culture creates an extremely rich context for learning, and the expertise brought together by the collaborative structure will guarantee a beneficial result to the local homeless community. Damon Johnson, Executive Director of the Thunderbird House, offered his contribution through his deep knowledge of the site and the local culture. Ryan Gorrie and Suzy Melo from Brook McIlroy, led the community design process through a careful and thoughtful Indigenous approach to research and design. Marco Gallo, of 0812 Building Solutions, once again joined us with his design-build teaching skills and extraordinary expertise. Peter Hargraves and Eduardo Aquino joined forces to facilitate the students’ participation and general coordination of the project. Dean Mira Locher joined the team offering her thoughtful expertise in Japanese culture and design.
To save a life is a real and beautiful thing. To make a home for the homeless, yes, it is a thing that must be good; whatever the world may say, it cannot be wrong. –Vincent Van Gogh
Inspired by the 7 fires of the Anishinaabe, at the end we designed an innovative warming device based on the Japanese Kotatsu, storing the heat from a firewood stove, and redistributing it to the legs, a table surface, and around the stove, along with seating amenities, inviting the people to gather around a fire.