Crosspost: Housing AND heritage, Stewart & Witton edition

St. Giles (85 Holton Ave S) photographed by Kathy Renwald for the Bay Observer
Photo: Kathy Renwald / The Bay Observer, 2021.

Housing + heritage: a win-win-win for people, culture, and the environment!

As Canadians and the world face the climate crisis, it’s of critical importance to remember the role that heritage buildings play in positive climate action. Adaptive reuse of landmarks like these is important for more than their cultural value — although that value is significant!

Heritage buildings are also an incredibly important built resource, one into which we’ve already invested significant energy and materials, and which we simply can’t afford to treat as disposable: there is never a good reason to toss our landmarks in a landfill. As with natural resources, conservation of our built heritage resources is key to sustainability, to good stewardship, and to using all of the tools at our disposal to take action against the current climate emergency. Adaptive reuse is hands-down, the greenest option for Hamilton’s historic buildings.

“A new building starts out life with a big carbon footprint. Preserving existing buildings is an effective form of climate action that delivers results right away.

We’re not going to build our way out of climate change.”

Jennifer O’Connor, in her TEDx talk on the strong environmental case for adaptive reuse:
Save buildings, fight climate change

Stewart & Witton, the architects of beautiful St. Giles Church, were leaders in multi-unit housing. In their hometown of Hamilton, Ontario, the Herkimer Apartments might be the architects’ best-known residential project. But housing doesn’t have to be purpose-built. In addition to two apartment buildings, two former schools and even an industrial conversion show how Stewart & Witton’s historic architecture can provide homes for everyone.

Repurposing historic architecture is a win-win-win for people, culture, and the environment — creating new residential units quickly and sustainably, while preserving our precious, irreplaceable landmark buildings, like St. Giles Church.

Read more on our Stewart & Witton 150th anniversary site!

Based in Hamilton’s Ward 3, the Friends of St. Giles are a group of neighbours and residents leading the community-based effort to save Stewart & Witton’s masterpiece, St. Giles Church. | @StGilesFriends | #SaveStGiles #StewartWitton150

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