Edmonton Housing helps girls and kids fleeing home violence

The design for a new row house rental community in the Creekwood Chappelle neighborhood of Edmonton was unveiled.

The project will deliver 134 townhouses in a community with green spaces, paths and public facilities. As one of the first earmarked rental communities in the neighborhood, over 30 percent of the suites will be used as affordable living space and especially for women and children who are fleeing domestic violence.

Frances Martin-DiGiuseppe is the founder and president of Q4A, the project’s architecture firm. It’s rare for an architecture firm to be run by women, especially the size of Q4A, explained Martin-DiGiuseppe, a 40-year industry veteran. In fact, more than 50 percent of the company’s employees are women, many of them in management positions.

“I feel like we have a different perspective,” she said. “We believe in architecture with social goals. Of course we work for developers and builders. Living has always been our passion. Our focus is everywhere where people live. I started my career here a long time ago and have run many non-profit apartments. This is an opportunity to really get back to those roots. “

The project is being designed for Saskatchewan-based Avana, a family-owned real estate company that is a perfect match for Q4A.

“We wanted to be with a customer who shares this passion, this desire,” says Martin-DiGiuseppe. “We are honestly looking for such customers. That was easy and worked so well from day one. “

Martin-DiGiuseppe and her team attached great importance to designing rooms that integrate the residents into the community and give them a feeling of security.

“The design of the project has to be supportive,” she said. “There has to be a positive environment”

This meant that affordable housing units would not be separated from other units of the project and would include amenities for families such as powder rooms, space for a dining table and kitchen islands, pantries for busy single parents to store food from limited quantities, bathtubs for bathing children, private balconies to get some fresh air, lines of sight to the street and the central courtyard of the project.

“In every Avana project, we try to break down as many barriers as possible for women and children affected by intimate partner violence,” said Jenn Denouden, CEO of Avana, in a press release. “What makes the development of Chappelle an exciting milestone for our company is in particular the possibility of building affordable options in a community with an affordability rating of less than five percent while breaking the mold of affordable housing. These accessible, safe and beautiful homes will provide the survivors with a stable foothold for rebuilding, and we at Avana are incredibly excited to be part of this journey. “

Martin-DiGiuseppe said she believes diversity is beneficial in creating a built environment and is proud that her company has attracted many women as well as other diverse groups.

“Because I’m a mother and a grandmother, I can see what it must be like to suddenly try to do things on my own,” she said. “I think women can bring in a different perspective and make change because they don’t necessarily look at things the same way.”

Martin-DiGiuseppe said the diversity has been particularly beneficial in the Toronto housing market, where many new Canadians are looking for a home. The company has first generation immigrants from 14 different countries who can bring their perspective.

“I find that very helpful,” she says.

She added that large public projects such as museums or government institutions often receive a lot of attention in the architecture scene, but her passion for houses has remained.

“I’m not going to say that a beautiful museum has no effect, but I’ve always seen it this way: We spend 60 percent of our lives in our homes and the pandemic has put our lives in the spotlight. “She said.” In my opinion, the power of architecture can affect our lives and this is most realized in the home. “

She believes that if she did her job right, residents will have a lot less chaos in their daily lives and won’t fully understand why.

The project is expected to be completed in 2022.

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