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Student Housing University of Toronto

From unity to community

The design for the new student housing at University of Toronto, Mississauga focuses on creating a feeling of being home away from home, making the transition into everyday life at campus an easy and positive experience. Thus, the architecture is an important part of ensuring the students have a positive experience when encountering academia.

The overall concept of the student housing is to move from unity to community, which is an approach that spans from the way the students are interacting with each other to the way the building is constructed. The building is divided into layers, beginning with the individual room as the core, leading into the shared hallway with benches and niches for hangouts and continuing into the shared common spaces with room for studying, playing games, cooking or just being together. The fourth layer consists of the ground floor, which creates a connection to the rest of the campus. This places the community at the base of the building – while the organization at the same time allows the students to choose whether they want to engage in the social life or be on their own.

Seen from the outside, the dynamic façade creates a vibrant appearance, making the building come to life. As with the program, the volume is also divided into smaller sections. Thus, we have placed three parts slightly dislocated from each other, which follows the natural curve of the surrounding landscape and neighboring university architecture.

University of Toronto is one of the leading universities in Canada according to QS World University Rankings and the new student housing makes it even more attractive for students to choose the university for their education. The residence can accommodate 400 students, who can choose between either single or double rooms. In total, 266 new rooms are built among plenty of common spaces, where the students can hang out.

Student housing focusing on feeling home away from home

Moving away from home for the first time and starting at university are two major life events, which require the ability to adapt to new circumstances. Therefore, our design for the new student housing at University of Toronto, Mississauga focuses on creating a feeling of being home away from home and thereby making the transition into academia easier and a good experience. The students should feel secure and get a sense of belonging from the day they move in. In continuation hereof, livability and hygge are core values of the project.

At University of Toronto, Mississauga, campus life and dorm life are closely related, which emphasizes the need for creating quality student housing with room for everything that life as a student involves. For example, we have activated the shared hallways by adding wall art, benches and small niches in order to turn the hallways into lively, buzzing streets for informal meetings. The student housing holds spaces for casual hang outs, where students can share their experiences and everyday life. At the common spaces, students can meet new friends and socialize, and they have multiple options for activities – they can study in the library, cook in the kitchen, do yoga at one of the quiet spaces or be creative in one of the creative rooms.

SDGs in the project

We have worked actively with integrating UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals into the building. As a result, we address the following goals in the design:

  • SDG 3, 4, 5 and 10: The design provides a vibrant and safe physical framework for empowerment and inclusion in social and political activities. This wayfinding braille and focus on clear signage in line with AODA guidelines. We work to ensure rich daylight, high quality acoustics and high quality indoor climate. Thus, the student housing architecture is designed to reduce illness from air pollution and enhance health and well-being. We work with gender specific issues related to sense of safety trough connectedness and transparency as well as related to access to sanitary facilities.
  • SDG 6 and 7: Technical installations, unitalities and energy concept is designed to optimize energy and water use. Thus, we integrate solar panels, explore potential for geothermal heating and work with water harvesting for reuse as well as smart lighting and water efficient fixtures.
  • SDG 8, 9 and 11: Designing based on a prefabricated modular system reduces quantity of used raw material, in turn reducing waste and embodied carbon. By designing with a modular system and having a local manufacturer producing the construction modules, we work with sustainable initiatives.
  • SDG 12 and 13: We work with circular principles for reducing materials and conduct Life Cycle Analysis combined with Life Cost Analysis, to asses potential for reducing embodied carbon. With a flexible concept we incorporate future potentials for refurbishments and transformations of function. In terms of user behavior, we nudge sustainability through strategically placed recycle shops.
  • SDG 11 and 15: We pay attention to the surrounding nature and incorporate access to safe inclusive green areas at campus.


University of Toronto, Mississauga
10800 m2
Toronto, Canada
Montgomery Sisam Architects