Tag Archives: design

Our Next Design Workshop: June 20

Prairie Spruce members and potential members in a community design meeting with an architect.
Prairie Spruce members and potential members in a community design meeting with an architect.

In March and April 2015 Prairie Spruce Commons members met with Chris Kailing, our architect from Pattison MGM, to consider final adjustments to our building design. It was once again magical to watch Chris move rooms and spaces. Here’s just one example of how Chris used feedback from the community to improve our design.

Chris used the layout of one of the one-bedroom plus den units as a base then applied transparent overlays to sketch out the revised concept for the two-bedroom units. In essence he removed the hallway area near the bedrooms in the original design and leveraged the found space into a larger kitchen area, more closet space and a second full bath, instead of the half bath. That put a bedroom on each side of the unit, with the kitchen and living area in the middle of the unit.

The existing two-bedroom unit holders, and the entire community, are extremely pleased with the new design and the design process as a whole. A word of encouragement for any would-be two-bedroom buyers: there is only one two-bedroom unit still available to purchase, so act quickly!

With the success of our past Design Workshops with Pattison MGM, the Prairie Spruce community is also very much looking forward to the next Design Workshop scheduled for June 20. At this workshop, our architects will be reviewing progress to date on the construction drawings, presenting 3D images of the building interiors, as well as initiating discussion about common house and private unit finishes (for example, millwork and cabinetry).

Are you considering joining the community or getting an in-depth look at the building design? This is the perfect opportunity for getting all your critical questions answered while also getting to know your future neighbours. If the workshop is of interest, get in touch and we’ll fill you in on the workshop details.

Dave

Design Q&A from Beta Sigma Phi

On Wednesday April 1st, 2015, we were invited to give a cohousing presentation to the women of the Regina Beta Sigma Phi Chapter.  Joanne and I were greeted and warmly welcomed by Vivian and Pat.  The presentation was well received by the group, and after the presentation Vivian and Pat presented us with beautiful yellow roses.  This made it our favourite group presentation to date!

A number of insightful questions were asked by the group and we felt inspired to answer these in greater depth via the blog. We’ve found that if one person is asking the question out loud, there’s at least another 10 that are also curious about the answer. We’ll be addressing a number of frequently asked questions over the coming weeks but decided to start with those related to the overall building design:

  • Will the building be made of wood or cement?
  • What walls were built to fire code?

The short answer to these is that the whole building is being built to code and will be wood-frame construction. But we felt that our architect Chris Kailing at Pattison MGM, could offer a more detailed explanation. Here’s what Chris had to say:

The 2010 National Building Code of Canada requires a 1 hour fire separation between the parkade and the upper floors, between the individual units and between the units and corridors. At the main level floor this is accomplished with a concrete slab. In the upper levels this is accomplished in the floors with the use of Gypcrete topping slabs and the use of fire rated drywall on the ceiling. At the unit demising and corridor walls this is accomplished with fire rated drywall. The exterior walls also have fire rated drywall from the interior and the exterior cladding that has been specified includes brick, stucco, and cement board (Hardie Board), which are all fire resistant materials.

Certain doors throughout the building must meet a specific fire rating as well. These include the unit entry doors and fire exit doors and doors to mechanical rooms. These will be solid core doors with a 45 minute fire rating.

Fire resistant ratings and assemblies (walls, floors, etc.) are quantified through a set of elaborate tests that have to do with temperature rise, flame spread, eventual failure of the assembly, etc. In a nut shell though, a one hour rated
assembly (wall, floors, roofs, ceilings) provide protection from catastrophic failure of that assembly for the designated time identified thus allowing adequate time for building inhabitants to exit to safety.

In addition to the required fire ratings the building has a fire sprinkler system which is designed to suppress fires at the location they start before they spread.

As future owners and residents of units at Prairie Spruce Commons, we’ve taken care to ensure that the design of our building will meet our needs for a very long time. If you have any other questions about the design of the building, we can share with you the short form design specifications for the building. Just swing by the Information Centre this weekend – we’d be glad to chat.

Stay tuned and watch for future blog posts with more answers to great questions we’ve received.

Lois

Farewell Dust Bunnies!

dust-bunny-x After August 2016 dust bunnies will be a thing of the past.  Or if not completely the past, at least they won’t show up on a daily basis! Our future holds Prairie Spruce Commons with in-floor hydronic heating and cooling!

We currently live in a house with forced air heating. We have our furnace and duct works cleaned annually, and we have one of those lifetime carbon air filters on the furnace. I clean the filter, as directed, on a regular basis, and still THEY come. Dust bunnies! I grew up in a home with hot water radiant heating. We had dust – after all there were five kids, and we tore around a lot – but we did not have daily dust bunnies.

Here are the Top 7 benefits of In-floor Hydronic Heating and cooling:

  • gives an even heat;
  • is more energy efficient;
  • contributes to healthier air;
  • reduces allergens;
  • is absolutely silent;
  • doesn’t dry the air; and best of all
  • does not produce dust bunnies! 

So don’t take it personally dust bunnies, but you and I are going to be parting company.

Brenda MacLauchlan

Walk~Wheeling the Lines of our Common House

Prairie-Spruce-Level-1-Common-House--400x284“I keep a close watch on this heart of mine

I keep my eyes wide open all the time

I keep the ends out for the tie that binds

Because you’re mine, I walk the line.”

I Walk the Line, by Johnny Cash


That old song has been singing to me since our community walk~wheeled** the tape on the floor outlining some of the common spaces of Prairie Spruce Commons.

And what the heck does the third line of that song mean anyhow?  No clue here!

Lil and WarrenWarren and the Design Committee spent hours on their knees at the Prairie Arctic Trades Training Centre where we were lucky to be guests for the day.  The massive indoor arena with a smooth cement floor was perfect for marking out, with masking tape, the more than 2000 square feet of main floor common space.  Common kitchen and dining room, lounge, kids space, entrance (front and back), elevator, guest room, accessible bathroom, common laundry, office, workshop, storage closet, powder-room and yes hallways.

Prior to the much anticipated walk~wheel, the plan was that all 15 of us, or so,  would follow Warren into the ‘taped-on-the-floor Common House,’ and listen attentively while he oriented us to what was what. Are you kidding!?  Right off the mark we were like a herd of cats with all our curiosity, questions, and excitement.

Once we settled a little and even figured out which way was north we found that walk~wheeling a space adds new dimension to pouring over architectural drawings.  Like feeling a space and experiencing it and rubbing shoulders with the neighbours too. 

Current research in organizational theory says that the most successful and resilient organizations are those that solicit, welcome and integrate feedback. It’s called the feedback loop.  Walk~wheeling the lines gave us opportunity to experience the feedback loop. Some things in the design seem perfect while others need some minor adjustments.

‘because you’re mine I (we) walk~wheel the line.”

Hope you knees will be okay in a couple of days Design Committee.

Ruth

** My preferred language so as to acknowledge those among us who get around by wheeling in strollers or wheelchairs.

What's In Your Toilet?

In most Canadian cities we could drink out of our toilets. Doesn’t sound too appealing, but we could if the toilet bowl had been thoroughly sanitized.  The same water that comes out of our taps is used to flush our toilets. In a world of increasingly scarce fresh water does this make even an ounce of sense?

I remember the first time I was told there is no new water. All the water on Earth is the same water that was here since the earth was formed about 4.6 billion years ago. This seemed impossible to believe. Water is always shape shifting: ice bergs, snow, hail, rain, rivers, lakes, oceans, glaciers, fog, mist, frost, ground water, tap water. But it is always the same water!  The same water has been cycling for 4.6 billion years.  But it is not in the same condition it was even fifty years ago. In Canada at any given time, there are usually 1000 boil water advisories in effect. Safe drinking water is essential to life and we are using it to flush our toilets!

There is an alternative. It is called grey water recycling. Grey water is defined as wastewater generated from sinks, showers and baths, which can be recycled on-site for uses such as toilet flushing, landscape irrigation and constructed wetlands. Grey water often includes discharge from laundry, dishwashers and kitchen sinks.  In July 2012, Bruce Nagy wrote the following in Plumbing and HVAC, The Voice of Canada’s Mechanical Industry.

It is probably wise to be skeptical about the next big thing. But sometimes it is just common sense; like the coming move toward more grey water recycling, especially in cities……… Whichever systems are used, there should be plenty of commercial and residential grey water and rainwater business available to contractors in the coming years. One could even say it’s the next big thing!

The Research and Innovation Centre at the University of Regina uses a grey water recycling system that is part of the research work of Dr. Stephanie Young. With the guidance of Dr. Young, the  design for Prairie Spruce Commons includes plumbing infrastructure for grey water recycling.  We plan to work with the City of Regina to seek approval to be a multi-residence grey water research site.

Our Prairie Spruce Commons Community is excited and eager to be a leader in environmental innovation in Regina. Are you the type of person that is passionate about sustainability issues and wants to be part of the solution? If so, we’re looking for more early adopters to join us on the quest to Green Regina.

Brenda