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© Scott Norsworthy


Location: Batawa, Ontario Size: 88,200 s.f. / 8,200 s.m. Architect of Record: Quadrangle Architects - Team: Leslie Klein, Dev Mehta, Hannah Tabatabaie, Kathryn Douthart Collaborating Design Architect: Dubbeldam Architecture + Design - Team: Heather Dubbeldam, Joseph Villahermosa, Scott Sampson Photography: Scott Norsworthy; Nanne Springer (suite interiors)


The late Sonja Bata pursued her passion for architecture and the built environment through the revitalization of the town of Batawa, located 175 km east of Toronto on the Trent river. As a sustainable community and satellite town adapted to 21st-century living, where residents could live close to nature but maintain a connection to work through high-speed broadband, she envisioned Batawa as a model community for social and environmental sustainability. Central to Bata’s vision for the town was the conversion of the manufacturing facility built by her family’s shoe empire, who relocated to Canada at the beginning of World War II.

Located at the gateway to the town, the conversion of the former factory into a mixed-use residential, commercial, and community building, designed by Quadrangle (Architect of Record) and Dubbeldam Architecture + Design (Collaborating Design Architect), is an ambitious adaptive re-use project with a light environmental footprint and a strong social mandate.

In its heyday, the shoe factory employed close to 1,900 people and supported the entire community, which included two schools, two churches, and sports facilities. It was the force that bound and oriented Batawa. That same philosophy was taken in the design vision for the revitalization of the old factory into a new and vital facility that serves the community – the building is now home to ground floor commercial spaces leasable to local businesses, a second floor intended for educational incubation, a daycare with an outdoor playground, and 47 high-quality rental residential units on the upper three storeys. The residential units are of varying sizes to provide both affordability and flexibility as families grow and contract and to promote aging-in-place for residents who want to stay connected with the community. With the intent of creating a community hub, the building offers amenities open to both residents and the community-at-large, including an exhibition/community space and multi-purpose rooms for meetings and lectures on the second floor, and an accessible rooftop terrace with panoramic views of the local Batawa ski hills and the Trent River.