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Participatory project management

The collaborative process under way

6 Framing Development Efforts

The collaborative process under way

Given the challenging location of the site and its accesses, and with a view to establishing market leadership in green mixed-use development, Groupe Pacific enlisted the experience of a wide range of professionals to participate in the analysis and exploration of design strategies suitable to this unique site. This collaborative “integrated design” method helped introduce best practices from leading urban projects as far afield as Europe, and tailor them to the site as well as Montreal’s climate and market. Working together through an encyclopedic range of themes in a series of intensive workshops, the team examined appropriate design options in a stimulating climate of discussions and sharing.

Design Charrette, Integrated Design Process

Consultations with representatives from the City of Montreal and the Lachine Borough have taken place, and must continue to best address the challenges posed by this major project. Our team also met with many stakeholders in the municipalities that lie adjacent to the site - Montreal West and Côte Saint-Luc - to let them know about the project’s aims and the potential benefits for the surrounding area.

Our collaborative process was further enriched by participation in the Ecologez competition organized by Equiterre. This is a new style of competition in which collaboration and environmental issues take precedence and it is hoped that participating students will learn the fundamental notions of integrated design: elements that are essential to a professional practice that responds to growing requirements for sustainable development. According to Équiterre, integrated design is a method of design that consists of bringing everyone involved to work together right from the start when the most influential or irreversible decisions are being made. The multidisciplinary team can then find solutions that are more innovative than outcomes resulting from a traditional approach with less up front planning. This approach is also encouraged by the Canada Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) program.

The goals of the Écologez competition coincided with our aspirations for the Petite Rivière project and so, on March 6 and 7, 2010, Suzanne Deschamps of Groupe Pacific and Daniel Pearl, architect with L'OEUF, enthusiastically presented the core elements of the project to be designed: multi-use buildings at the centre of a community that blends a vibrant urban life style within a healthy, natural environment. Sixty-five university students from 14 different disciplines had to meet the demanding technical challenge of designing buildings that would meet the performance targets of the Living Building Challenge, with requirements such as net-zero energy consumption.

  Écologez competition organised by Equiterre. Photograph : Robert Etcheverry

6 Framing Development Elements

To guide the integrated design process, we suggested six development elements : energy, rehabilitating a river, quality shared urban spaces, a new train station, access to quality natural spaces and waste as a resource. Together, these six elements form the basis for major innovation and offer partnership possibilities with municipalities and other organizations (Hydro-Québec, the AMT, etc.).

Pilot projects

This new community seeks innovative ways to significantly reduce its carbon footprint by first reducing excess energy consumption, and then supplying the remaining demand from renewable energy sources. The plan calls for a forward-thinking, proactive approach and proposes to address this key issue with the greatest possible efficiencies at a neighborhood scale. It could serve as a model for designers and promoters of future buildings across North America.

The goal is to significantly reduce the demand for water delivered through the municipal system and the consumption of precious potable water by residents and businesses in Petite Rivière. To accomplish this goal, recycled grey water and captured rainwater could be naturally treated in wetlands on the site to reduce the load on municipal sanitary sewers and storm water systems to an absolute minimum.

Shared urban space
In the new community, a dense and compact network of shared spaces that people can gather in and walk or bicycle across, like the plazas and courtyards of well-planned European cities, will enhance quality of life for residents and the population of surrounding neighborhoods. These busy pedestrian arteries will seamlessly interconnect with each other and with traffic-calmed streets, and will encourage diverse uses, from playgrounds and community gardens to sidewalk cafes and secure bicycle storage.

Specific interventions

Train station
The train is the most efficient form of public transit. The site is adjacent to major railway infrastructure that includes commuter train lines and an express track to the airport. To take best advantage of this opportunity for residents and surrounding neighborhoods, a new train stop near the southern border of the site is proposed in the project plan.

The new Petite Rivière development project could set aside almost 50% of the site for a large public park, two-thirds of which would be restored natural areas with high biodiversity. This is something to be discussed with the proper authorities.

Waste as a resource
Careful management of waste brought into the site (reduction), separation of waste categories, reuse and recycling will be supported by facilities built into the neighborhood and into each building. On-site handling of organic waste will be encouraged by distributed and central composting locations to sustain individual and collective gardens. On-site use of solid waste to fuel the central plant for the district thermal heating loop will be evaluated as part of the energy systems for the community.

A centralized system of waste collection is being considered for installation in the community. Using conduits under negative (vacuum) pressure and drawing from inlet points in the buildings and public spaces, this pneumatic system would collect all the waste at a single depot that could be located on the south side of the railway lines to alleviate the problematic issues of waste collection access by the borough of Lachine. The system would also have the benefit of eliminating the noise and nuisance of garbage trucks circulating through the shared spaces of the community and, in so doing, would reduce the carbon footprint in transport for waste


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