10 Discussion

In her interview, Nrinder Nann talked about the inspiration that Parkdale Landing and its Passive House design utilized within the City of Hamilton:

I know that it’s definitely inspiring other affordable housing built in the city, and it’s also spurred a conversation – whether it’s Indwell or whether it’s City Housing Hamilton and other buildings, seeing the results of the Passive House design and what that means for an environment where capital and operating dollars are dwindling.

We set out to explore the relationship between design, mental health and community building and sought to answer our research questions: What is it about the ways that the Indwell communities are built, how do the intentional design of services and of spaces contribute to increased mental health and wellness? What is the value of using environmental sustainability like Passive Housing when building affordable housing? Through that process, we discovered that there were many interconnections through Cultivating Community and Relationships and Purposeful Design.

We also learned that Indwell’s story and their model of Purposeful Design from start to finish has had a transformative impact on the lives of the tenants who have had the opportunity to find housing at one of their developments. As we think about further research, we would love to hear about those transformational impacts first-hand from tenants.

We believe that Indwell’s model and approach to creating sustainable, supportive, affordable housing in the region is one that can be learned from, and that the principles can be applied in other contexts. Indwell is taking action and creating long term solutions for affordable, supportive, and sustainable housing at a time when there is both a mental health (CAMH, 2020) and a housing crisis across Canada (CMHC, 2020). We are in desperate need of good strong models to lead us into possibilities and solutions.

Indwell’s story is not finished yet. In his interview in the summer of 2019, Graham Cubitt spoke about future developments, one of them being McQuesten Lofts, which will be a partner development to Parkdale Landing. This housing development will open in the Fall of 2020:

We opened this building in September 2018. You can see those orange ribbons (points to construction ribbons in the vacant lot beside the Parkdale landing building). There is actually going to be a 50-unit apartment building that will go up next to this building. It will be four storeys and the community gardens here will be accessible to the tenants in this complex. There will be a large landscaped area with native plants [Medicine Garden], designed to support our partnership with two Indigenous housing organizations.

The Medicine Garden with twelve traditional plantings referred to is currently under construction (at the time of the writing of this report in December 2020) and will be an important part of the new building development. This is another example of responsive action to meet housing needs in the City of Hamilton and across the region. It also continues to illustrate the importance that Indwell places on collaboration, community, and partnership.

It is our hope that as you read this research report, that you have learned something new: that you have been inspired by Indwell’s commitment to building community, to environmental sustainability, to designing buildings that are responsive to the mental health and well-being of tenants, to designing an integrated service model that supports tenant success, or other purposeful design elements that we discussed throughout the report.

It was clear to us that their approach was something that Indwell, Invizij Architects, and Schilthuis Construction were eager to share. They wanted us to understand what it was that they did because they have seen the positive impact that it has had on tenants and on communities. We want to end with something that Steven Rolfe shared in his interview:

Why wouldn’t we build a place that we would want to live in ourselves? Why wouldn’t we create an environment where people are well cared for? That’s an extension of our values.

And so, this model of affordable, supportive and sustainable housing stems from a commitment to the values of health, wellness and belonging. It is something that stakeholders believe in and have seen the impact it can have in transforming communities.  And it is this kind of transformation that communities across Canada are looking for as they navigate the needs for affordable housing and housing that meets the needs of a diverse group of tenants seeking a place to call home.



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