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, currently undergoing a major revitalization. The project brings together ground floor commercial spaces leasable to local businesses with a double-height lobby and sculptural steel staircase that lead to an entire second floor intended for educational incubation. This will be home to new technological labs, studios, a lecture hall, an exhibition space, offices, and a community event space. The remaining upper floors of the five-storey building will have 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 over 600 feet deep into the earth will regulate building temperature, reducing its overall energy consumption.

In collaboration with Quadrangle Architects, 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 rhythm of regularity is interrupted by the 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 within. The factory now stands to once again become a beacon of productivity within the town, focused on a sustainable future.

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