Bata Shoe Factory Revitalization

Sonja Bata pursued her passion for architecture and the built environment through the revitalization of the town of Batawa. As a sustainable community and satellite town adapted to 21st century living, where residents could live close to nature but maintain a connection to work through broadband, she envisioned Batawa as a model community for social and environmental sustainability.

At the town entrance lies one of the Bata Shoe Company’s original factories, which has undergone a major revitalization. Designed in collaboration with Quadrangle Architects, the project brings together ground floor commercial spaces leasable to local businesses with a double-height lobby and sculptural steel staircase that leads to a second floor intended for educational incubation. Home to new technological labs, studios, a lecture hall, an exhibition space, offices, the second level also includes a community event space. The remaining upper floors of the five-storey building include 47 residential units and a rooftop terrace with views to the local Batawa ski hills and the Trent River. Additionally, a geothermal field with tubes drilled 600 feet deep into the earth provides a sustainable energy source, making the building highly efficient in its energy consumption.

The new design retains the original structure of the factory from 1939 while revitalizing its Modernist heritage through materials and striking design elements. The façade features new glazing and brick cladding that echo the factory’s original appearance, with the addition of balconies throughout. This regular rhythm is interrupted by the projecting central volume, with its own wood-clad balconies that add playful voids to the otherwise planar façade; below this, an entrance canopy extends outward inviting visitors to enter. The factory now stands to once again become a beacon of productivity within the town, focused on a sustainable future.

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