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Gairloch utilizing CLT and recycled materials in latest developments

Gairloch Developments is moving forward on two separate projects — pursuing sustainable construct...

IMAGE: A rendering of the upcming Craft Residence

A rendering of Craft Residences in Toronto’s Junction neighbourhood. (Courtesy Gairloch Developments)

Gairloch Developments is moving forward on two separate projects — pursuing sustainable construction through materials recycling and ecologically-friendly wood.

Craft Residences, a planned eight storey, 86-suite mid-rise building in Toronto’s Junction neighbourhood, will utilize a façade consisting of repurposed porcelain, recycled aluminum and glass brick. Each brick inlay will be made up of approximately 60 per cent recycled material.

Grain Loft, at 1650 Dupont St. in the same neighbourhood will be a six-storey, 28-unit mid-rise building utilizing cross-laminated timber (CLT) in place of typical building materials like concrete.

“There’s a strong driver, and I think it’s an unwillingness to be able to try sustainable products. That’s your starting premise. That’s what motivates us,” said Greg Katz, Gairloch’s director of development.

“It’s maybe a bit stubborn, but that’s the pursuit. Building mid-rise with masonry, pursuing sustainable products is not always easy. The economies of scale are quite different.”

Craft will be complete in spring 2025, while Grain Loft’s site only says “early 2025.”

Other notable projects from Gairloch, both in Toronto, include 383 Sorauren Ave. which earned the Toronto Urban Design Award in 2017 and Junction Point at 2625 Dundas St. West, which earned Mid/High-Rise Project of the Year by BILD in 2021.

Craft’s recycled materials

The face of the building will be comprised of a mosaic of porcelain, concrete and other construction debris. The underside of the roof will be comprised of aluminum soffits made from recycled cans.

As Katz tells it, the recycled material was always a key element of the design, born out of conversations Gairloch’s CEO Bill Gairdner had with Toronto-based architecture firm BDP Quadrangle — specifically Heather Rolleston, a principal and design director as well as member of Toronto’s Design Review Board. The genesis of the project came about a year and a half ago.

“You like beautiful brick, and you can now provide recycled brick with waste material in it. you can have your design aspect and there can be a functional environmental piece to it, which I think is great,” Katz said. “(Gairdner) is not compromising on the design base, but you’re also using recycled material.”

That recycled material will likely come from the brick supplier, who at this point was not named. At the time of writing, Gairloch had no further details on the potential emissions reductions from using recycled materials.

When complete, it will span 78,000 square feet of gross floor area. Individual units will vary from 400 square feet to about 1,300 square feet.

Located at 3200 Dundas St. West, Craft will offer studios to three-bedroom and penthouse suites at a starting price of $600,000. Amenities will include a party room, a theatre, an outdoor terrace, fitness centre and co-working spaces.

The interior design is being handled by Toronto-based Mason Studio Inc.

Grain Loft’s sustainable CLT

The Grain Loft mid-rise was born within the last year, similar to Craft. It was conceptualized via conversations Gairdner had with Gabriel Fain Architects Inc., who took the design lead on the building.

“There was a discussion and a willingness to push cross-laminated timber, and push it into mid-rise buildings” despite it not being a widely used material at the moment, Katz said. “So I think it was just a willingness to create something interesting.”

He explained that CLT is more expensive than traditional methods, although some savings could occur in the scheduling and erection phases. For Gairloch, that’s still some time away. Grain Loft being a relatively small building helped with the decision as well.

The timber will be sourced from renewable forests in Northern Ontario. According to the company, it will sequester approximately 220 kgs of carbon per cubic metre.

CLT is a sustainable building material compared to concrete, which is responsible for eight per cent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Grain Loft will offer one, two and three-bedroom units starting at $900,000. The architecture and interior design is being handled by Gabriel Fain.

Katz doesn’t think Gairloch’s sustainability-focused ethos will change with future projects, going on to say that even the choice of constructing mid-rise buildings factored into the company’s sustainability goals.

“I think (a mid-rise) is broadly sustainable in itself, like in terms of the urban infill,” Katz said. “I think that alone… building to a neighborhood scale is part of the objective.”

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