Bata Shoe Factory Revitalization

Sonja Bata’s passion for architecture, design and the built environment inspired the revitalization of the town of Batawa, located north of Trenton ON. As a satellite town adapted to 21st century living, she envisioned Batawa as a model community for social and environmental sustainability, where residents could live close to nature but maintain a connection to work through high-speed broadband technology.

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 a sculptural steel staircase leading to the second floor intended for educational incubation. This space will be home to new technological labs, studios, a lecture hall, an exhibition space, administrative offices, and a community event space. The remaining upper floors of the five-storey building will house 47 residential units and a rooftop terrace offering views to the local Batawa ski hills and the Trent River.

In collaboration with Quadrangle Architects, the new design retains the factory’s original 1939 structure while breathing new life into its Modernist form through new materials and bold design elements. The façade features new glazing and brick cladding between the original exposed concrete beams and columns, echoing the factory’s original character while adding balconies to accommodate its new residential program. This rhythm of regularity is interrupted by the projecting central volume, with its wood-clad irregular openings adding playful voids to the otherwise planar façade. Additionally, the building is heated by a sizable geothermal field with 62 bore holes over 600 feet deep into the earth, significantly reducing the building’s overall energy consumption. The factory now stands to once again become a beacon of productivity within the town, focused on a sustainable future.

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