Founded in 1889, the Don Valley Brick Works extracted local clay, shale, and sand to become the largest and most significant brick-making company in Canada. Today, Evergreen has transformed the previously abandoned industrial site into an educational campus focused on nature, sustainability, culture, and community.
ERA Architects’ role in the project included:
- A master plan, produced in collaboration with Evergreen and Architects Alliance, creating a framework philosophy of “light touch” and “loose fit.” This framework seeks to conserve heritage fabric as “embodied energy” and intervene only when necessary to make the site safer and ready to be used.
- Minor interventions such as selective repairs to masonry, woodwork, and roofs; stabilizations and repairs to foundations and trusses; installation of water management features such as new flashing and rainwater leaders.
- Site-wide collaborations with Diamond Schmidt, DuToit Alsopp Hillier (DTAH), and Claude Cormier to unite heritage conservation and sustainable reuse, including:
- Renovation of “Building 12” with energy-efficient envelope, green roof technology, and solar chimneys that draw heat from the building in summer.
- Implementation of a system of ponds and bio-swales that provide water for site irrigation, washrooms, and cooling technology.
- An interpretation plan for on-site and online educational resources, exhibits, and content, bringing together concepts of geology, history, industry, community, and sustainability.
This collaborative project demonstrates clearly the deep relationships between heritage conservation and sustainable practice. Developing these relationships represents an increasingly important aspect of ERA’s practice.
Also, please see our page dedicated to a particularly interesting detail of this project: the Brick Works Kilns.