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Danyon Goodwin

Danyon Goodwin

Danyon Goodwin is a designer with an interest in how spaces interact with the social landscape. He enjoys working on a range of commercial projects from hospitality to community or corporate. Danyon is currently working as a designer at Syllable in Liberty Village in Toronto.

The 519 Community Event Space

The 519 is a non-profit organization in Toronto providing community services and spaces for the LGBTQ2S community. While they already have a location on Church St., this Community Event Space was designed with the mission of creating safe, inclusive spaces throughout the city that can be used by everyone. The new building provides an accepting and accessible place for people to gather and work together. The community event space can support a variety of events from community meetings to seminars and weddings.

The 519 Community Event Space

Rationale and Design Narrative

The concept behind the design of the space was that of blending the old and the new. This was exemplified by creating space for a new community in an old neighborhood and by giving an old building a new use with a focus on inclusivity and a sense of welcoming. To start, the circulation was designed to connect the pedestrian traffic on both sides of the building and encourage people to enter and explore what the organization can offer. The choice of more raw, architectural materials was purposeful in designing a space that not only could adapt to any event that is being held but also to create a space that did not feel intimidating to those on the financial margins who are an important portion of the users of the community services. All public entrances are wheelchair accessible to encourage the feeling that this space welcomes everyone.

Design Connection to Research

Research on designing inclusive spaces shows that use of a ring-like layout wherein there are multiple circulation paths and entries between rooms is important for creating a space where occupants feel they have a sense of freedom and choice of how they want to explore the building. While the large event spaces serve well for supporting a variety of different activities and furniture arrangements, research also showed it is valuable to provide small and secluded gathering spaces for more intimate social interactions. Research into inclusive washrooms informed the decision to design the washrooms to be gender-neutral and open to the main space, but to keep a sense of individual privacy for the users.

Character of Space

The character of the space was inspired by the history of the building itself. The concept of the space is all about blending old and new so celebrating the historic features of the distillery building was central to the design. The building was previously used as a fermenting cellar when the district was a functioning distillery and some of the fermenting tanks still remain below the main entry ramp and on the exterior wall where the washrooms are located. Old photos of the space when it was used as a fermenting cellar also helped inform the materiality of the new design with the use of perforated metal which calls back to the walkways between the fermenting tanks. The existing plaster and walls were maintained, but the entire space was painted white to create a bright and warm atmosphere with natural wood tones to create warmth.

Program Consideration

The exterior urban context of the site really influenced the programming of this community event space. It was important to take into consideration the pedestrian and vehicle access routes and place back-of-house spaces at the front of the building to maintain easy access for catering or event decor deliveries. The multifunctional spaces are located at the back of the building closest to the pedestrian street to catch the attention of people in the neighborhood and make them feel welcome. The gallery space can be leased out to different artists in the area and doubles as a secondary event space that can be connected to the main lobby. In keeping the inclusive concept of the space, the washrooms are gender-neutral and open, while still providing individual privacy. Staff offices are located upstairs with a conference room and mezzanine lounge that also functions as a bar event space.

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