6 Methodology


This exploratory research consisted of data collected through in-person interviews with key stakeholders. We conducted semi-structured interviews with key stakeholders involved in the Indwell/Invizij Affordable Supportive Housing project in order to assess scope, background, history, approach, intent, and record initial impacts observations. Key stakeholders were selected based on consultations with Graham Cubitt, from Indwell and Emma Cubitt, from Invizij Architects.

Participants included project and organizational administrators, housing workers, the head architect, the construction lead for the Parkdale Landing Project (the first large scale Passive House Multi-dwelling building built in Hamilton), a politician involved in housing projects and a key member of the Affordable Housing office from the City of Hamilton. A total of eight individuals participated in the interviews between May and June 2019. One of the interview participants participated in two interviews, where the second interview was part of a site tour of the Parkdale Landing site. This brought the total number of interviews to nine.

The key stakeholders, in accordance with the terms of the Ethics protocol, agreed to be identified.  This was essential because of the different roles that each of the research participant plays and because of the exploratory nature of the research. The research participants were as follows:


Jeff Neven, Executive Director, Indwell


Graham Cubitt, Director of Projects and Development, Indwell


Jess Brand, Assistant Program Director, Indwell


Steven Rolfe, Director of Mental Health Services, Indwell


Emma Cubitt, Principal Architect, Invizij Architects


Henry Schilthuis, Construction Lead, Schilthuis Construction


Nrinder Nann,  Hamilton City Counsellor, Ward 3

Bruce McLean, Housing Development Officer, City of Hamilton


Semi-structured interviews took place in various locations in Hamilton, Ontario. Participants were asked to respond to a series of common questions that addressed scope, background, history, approach, intent, and initial observations of impacts.  All of the questions had a particular focus on the intersection of design, mental health and community building. Questions varied in each interview as the key stakeholders had different areas of expertise (i.e. the head architect and the construction lead had more technical expertise while the housing workers and project and organizational administrators were able to comment more on impacts on residents and program design). A full list of these questions can be found in Appendix 2.

Researchers’ Note: It is important to note that initially we approached an additional two people to participate in key informant interviews. Both of these individuals were politicians who had been involved in the past in supporting Indwells’ housing projects and were recommended by Emma and Graham Cubitt.  Both politicians chose to not participate in the interviews.  A clear reason for their unwillingness to participate was not provided. Nrinder Nann, a current City Councillor, did agree to be interviewed and contributed from her perspective, as someone committed to affordable housing in the City of Hamilton.

Plotting Design, Space and Building Science

In addition to the interviews, Architectural Technology students, under the direction of Dr. Shannon Pirie, created a visual analysis of the Parkdale Landing building following the site tour. You can find these drawings in Appendix 1. An analysis of community infrastructure, distances to services and health resources, and general walkability of the area was undertaken. Clearly the area is one that is impacted by its proximity to industry and perhaps most significantly to its corner location at the intersection of two very busy four lane thoroughfares. The emphasis is vehicle-centric, indicating a need to erect boundaries of many kinds between residents and aggressive traffic. Next, an analysis of local demographics in the areas of wellbeing, affordability and social housing set the stage for a better understanding of the community that this building services. Finally, at the micro level, a 3D model of the building showing the adjacencies of space, and an analysis of functional areas demonstrates the relationship between the allotment of private spaces, communal spaces and community-related spaces. As we further analyze more buildings by Indwell, we will use this data to identify unique features of their supportive and affordable models as compared to other similar residential buildings.

The Architectural Technology team also paid significant attention to the small-scale detailing observed in this building in comparison to other non-Passive House standard buildings during the in-person tour and in a follow-up presentation by the building’s contractor Schulthuis Construction. The conundrum that faces architecture science is the perceived increase to cost and time that is the result of building sustainably. The need for specific products and materials from non-local sources can be intimidating from detailing, specifications and tender perspectives. Yet in talking with Indwell, Invizij Architects, and Schulthuis Construction, the extra cost of construction was minimal and the sourcing of materials was not a factor that contributed significantly to any delays. Emphasis, however, was placed on the care of installation and sequencing of materials in order to ensure a measured performance as prescribed by the Passive House methodology. As demonstrated in their design intentionality as it related to community, the development team was intentional with its approach to building science principles and to the physical realities of the surrounding community.

Data Analysis


The interviews were audio-recorded and then transcribed by research assistants working on the project.  The research team then coded the interviews using qualitative content analysis. We coded the data, categorized it and from those different categories, distinct themes that answered our research findings emerged.


In addition to the interview data, we also took photographs while on site visits and our research team the created analysis drawings mentioned above. Using text from the interviews and photographs of the building, we created multi-layered collages representing emergent distinct themes. The decision to use collage as an exploratory research method stemmed from the desire to deconstruct the visual and auditory data gathered for this project. Collage has been used as a qualitative, arts-based research methodology since the end of the 20th century. “It is our contention that collage, functioning as a form of analytic memo, exercises the kinds of non-linear and preconscious modes of thinking that are needed to facilitate contextualizing forms of analysis, potentially bringing tacit understandings about the researcher, the participants, and the context to the surface in insightful, useful, and different ways. This non-textual form of representation delays but then enriches a textual explication which might otherwise limit these possibilities.” (Davis, Butler-Kisber, 1999)

In our case, it is a way of creating a deeper and new understanding of two different data-gathering formats: interviews based on a place and photographs of a particular place. By [merging] the two together, we are seeing the work in a new intersection that enables us to use the streetscape of Parkdale Landing as a theatre stage within the community, allowing us to express the words of those who have a hand in creating it. The interviews, largely internal, personal, and unlikely to move much beyond this research paper, are now exposed as pieces of art and tell the narrative of an evolving neighbourhood, beyond that which can be done by a building’s façade alone.

Furthermore, the use of collage in this research has been a way in which we, as experts in two very different domains, can communicate with each other on a level beyond exchanging field-related literature. We have used collage as a common language to express our interpretations of the data and to tease out themes that bring our two areas of work together. This multi-disciplinary approach allows each of us, as artists in our own right, to create a shared dialogue that not only transcends our academic disciplines, but also brings together architectural thinking and community studies in a new and unique light.

As initially proposed, the output of this particular research project was to include a multi-disciplinary lecture where we would discuss our findings alongside members of the team that delivered the building, from the developer to the architect. At the same time, we would share our original collages and other work produced in reaction to our research, including textile and clay pieces by our principal researchers. As a result of the pandemic, this aspect of the work has been put on hold and will appear online in a digital gallery. In addition, the collages are integrated into the research findings section of this report, in order to achieve what we had hoped they would, an awakening of a different consciousness in ourselves and in our viewers, prompting further reflection on the topics of community, housing, building science, and design.

This report, therefore, is a way of connecting our voices in our specific areas of research and as researchers in our own right. We are working together from a feminist perspective of learning about each other as we move through this research project. We began this work as strangers, turned research collaborators and to teammates, exploring affordable housing through each other’s unique lens.


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