Tag Archives: canada

Arctic Food Network

Arctic Food Network in Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada by Lateral Office / InfraNet Lab, 2011.

Recently Lateral Office / InfraNet Lab was announced as recipient of the Gold Award for the 2011 North America Regional Holcim Awards for their Regional Food-Gathering Nodes and Logistics Network in Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada. This is the third annual competition for sustainable projects and visions run by the Holcim Foundation, which "aims to build awareness of the importance of sustainable construction among professionals and the public." For the 2011 Awards over 6,000 sustainable construction projects were submitted for all five regions, though the nine-member jury for the North American Awards had to wade through only 229 entries. The Silver Award went to Swift Lee Office for a Zero Net Energy School in Los Angeles, and the Bronze Award was given to Julie Snow Architects for an Energy and Water Efficient Border Control Station in Van Buren, Maine.

The project by Lateral Office / InfraNet Lab, led by Mason White and Lola Sheppard, envisions "an Arctic Food Network (AFN) in Canada’s high arctic territory of Nunavut [as] a model to overcome the dependence of the Inuit community on expensive processed food products imported from the south." By responding to issues of health and poor living conditions among the Inuit, the project further "intends to secure mobility between the scattered Inuit communities, allow a better distribution of local foods and serve as a series of bases for the reinforcement of traditional hunting – while also establishing new foundations for a sustainable, more independent economy."

Our study on mobility, food security, and health in this region led to the pursuit of a network of small structures that acknowledge the Inuit tradition of temporary enclosure in a cold climate. -Lateral Office / InfraNet Lab

AFN, like much of White and Sheppard's output (Pamphlet Architecture 30: Coupling is a good place to see a number of their infrastructural designs), takes a studied look at the macro scale and presents their research and design in an elegant manner, combining the best of mapping with an Edward Tufte-esque "visualization of quantitative information." Further their designs carefully balance the macro with the micro; the latter is comprised here of various small buildings, what they call stacks, sheds, mesh, and poles. These structures, which provide shelter for various uses geared around obtaining and preparing food, are an interesting synthesis of contemporary, vernacular, and industrial buildings.

The project is also illustrative of sustainable approaches today, in that it responds to local place and identity while incorporating 21st-century technology, all in relation to the ills of last century's industrialization. AFN does not propose a technological fix to the influx of manufactured food products that is supplanting the knowledge of "country hunting," but it layers this technology into buildings and a larger network that allow for the Inuit's prolonged self-sufficiency. For example, the smoke stacks that enable the smoking of game meats are also rigged with data transmission infrastructure for internet, cell, and satellite devices powered by solar cells and battery storage. This may seem like an odd disconnect, but one thing the project addresses is the young Inuit population, or as the jury put it, "[these interventions] bridge between the traditions of the Inuit and the expectations of the young generation thereby providing an opportunity to create an improved future."

Sauder School of Business

Sauder School of Business in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada by Acton Ostry Architects, 2010.

The Vancouver campus of the 100-year-old University of British Columbia (UBC) is located at the western tip of the Point Grey Peninsula, a dramatic site surrounded by forests on three sides and overlooking the Pacific Ocean on the fourth side. At about 1,000 acres (400 hectares) the campus is large, but it is also green, earning Canada's first Gold rating in the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS). The renewal and expansion of the Sauder School of Business by Acton Ostry Architects is a standout building in the campus-wide efforts to reduce carbon emissions, reduce waste, reduce water usage, and increase public transit and walking.

Located in the center of the campus, the new design greets students on the Main Mall with a long glass elevation that "embeds and reflects the rhythm, cadence and pattern language associated with the universal transfer of digital commerce and business information -- a barcode." This facade, which extends around the corner to the south, wraps the existing complex to create a strong image for the school. Regardless of any rational for the glazing pattern and colors, the new exterior manages to unify the disparate collection of dated school buildings.

Our design approach incorporates new technologies and materials that contribute to the realization of projects rooted in a considered, modernist idiom that offer sustenance to those who inhabit and experience them. -Acton Ostry Architects

Besides the new glazed elevation, the main elements in the project are a new five-story volume to the west, a completely renovated ground floor, and a central atrium. The last links old and new and creates a new circulation spine for the school whose spaces have have accrued over time. The narrow space also serves as a helpful wayfinding device by drawing ones attention to the daylight that enters from above and diffuses the building. On the ground floor the atrium stands out because the architects have opened this level dramatically, expressing it through the lime-green columns and bracing that hold up the existing building overhead. One can enter the building and see all the way into the new building through the atrium. Another nice touch is the donor program, which uses currency symbols as pixels that paints the likeness of the donors, reminiscent of the visage of Mies van der Rohe at the entrance to IIT's student center.

Returning to the building's green features, the school taps into a campus-wide steam system for heating, but also utilizes waste steam from the campus heating plant. One area in which this happens is the lecture halls. On the flip side, the building is cooled by a steam absorption chiller that operates via waste steam from the plant. So, as the architects put it, "much of the building uses scavenged energy," helping the project to earn an SAB Canadian Green Building Award. The first phase of the project was completed in 2010, with the second and third phases -- the renovation of the rest of the existing -- expected to be complete by the end of 2011.

First Nations Garden Pavilion

First Nations Garden Pavilion in Montreal, Quebec, Canada by Saucier + Perrotte, 2001.

Recipient of a 2002 Governor General's Medal in Architecture, Saucier + Perrotte's First Nations Garden Pavilion is not much more than an undulating roof and two enclosures - exhibition and orientation space at one end, public washrooms and meeting space at the other - but it is a suitably minimal intrusion in the Montréal Botanical Garden.

The pavilion is part of the First Nations Garden, a permanent commemoration of the great peace of Montreal of 1701 and a cultural exhibition of the first inhabitants of North America. The pavilion covers about 2% of the garden, acting like a porous border between the Garden's two halves (spruce and maple). What enables the pavilion (plan and sections) to be both unobtrusive and act like a filter is the decision to place the majority of the exhibition outside, in heavy-duty displays covered by the concrete roof. As well, portions are located underground, even some displays straddling the ground plane.

Materials are left in an unfinished state, such as the poured-in-place concrete of the roof (exposing the rough wood formwork), the wood screen of the enclosure seen at left, and corten steel in some walls. The rusted steel edge of the curving roof is such a detail, making the line of the roof more explicit while fitting into the natural surroundings, particularly in autumn when the leaves change to orange.

In selecting this project for a Governor's award, the jury was impressed by the integration of the structure with the landscape, but the integration of architecture and interpretive display impressed them even more. Tracing the first inhabitants history up to the present day, the diverse exhibitions are helped by the linear arrangement of the pavilion and the outdoor setting, where the visitor can experience the artifacts in direct contact with constant of all inhabitants.

[Google Earth link]

Early Learning Center

Early Learning Center in Toronto, Ontario, Canada by Teeple Architects.

Local architect for the nearby Graduate House by Morphosis, Teeple Architects is no stranger to progressive design, particularly in the realm of day care. Over the last ten years, the Toronto-based firm has created numerous centers, leading up to the wonderful University of Toronto Early Learning Centre. Spatially interesting, light-filled, and responsive to the children's needs, the 1,061 s.m. (11,400 s.f.) building also responds to its site in a way that improves upon the interior spaces.

A brick-clad wall and cantilevered stair signal a ramp to the main entry from the alley and parking. Inside a long ramp reiterates the exterior progression to connect the day care's two main levels. Acting as a functional connector, the ramp also provides a gentle incline for play and a visual connection between the younger and older children on the lower and upper floors, respectively.

Elsewhere on the exterior, green-tinted glass and standing-seam, galvanized metal prevails. What appears to be random masses and openings is the product of a complex composition that connects the interior and exterior spaces. Double-height spaces on the upper floor add variety to the overall mass but also help form play areas on the roof. An outdoor play area at grade provides the best glimpse of the architect's sensitivity to the site: a large, existing walnut tree is wrapped by the building, in a gesture that preserves the tree while indicating the subservient role of the building to nature.

An article in Azure indicates that firm principal Stephen Teeple values the connections the design makes between in and out. The variety of window openings emphasizes this more than a grid of regular windows could accomplish. Some glass brings in sun while other areas frame particular views or connect to outdoor spaces. Teeple has created an environment where kids can sense this connection as they will be continually amazed by the variety inherent in the playful spaces of the architecture.

[Google Earth link]

Sharp Centre for Design

Sharp Centre for Design in Toronto, Ontario, Canada by Will Alsop, 2004.

Approaching the Sharp Centre for Design at the Ontario College of Art & Design (OCAD) it's difficult to not feel shock at the sight of a black and white box with colored stilts. The shock gives way to the now proverbial awe as one senses the underside of the two-story object raised about eight stories above the street. But has Will Alsop (with local architect Robie Young + Wright Architects) created something that will stand the test of time, or a goofy one- or two-liner?

Although shocking and daring, the building's design is relatively simple and straightforward. A two-story box, housing studios and offices, is raised above a triple-height entry that reuses an old, yet fairly nondescript, existing building. The painted steel, tapered-tube structure leans out to accommodate this lower part, the concrete core and a service incline the only other parts of the composition. So the design is made up of five parts, though their relationship to each other and the norm is what gives the building its shock value.

According to the architect, the design was generated by the desire to create an icon for a 125-year-old institution that contributes greatly to Canada's creative industry, as well as a consideration for the building's neighbors, preserving views to a park west of the Centre. Even without the Tetris-like pattern painted onto the corrugated metal cladding or the brightly-colored steel and lipstick-red service incline (most likely exit stairs and building systems), the building is impressive. The feeling of walking under the floating "tabletop" is uncomparable. Its coloring, if anything, detracts from this effect, creating an un-needed diversion from the structural bravado already achieved.

The early renderings indicate that the entry sequence would be an extension of the exterior's impact. Instead the reality is much more subdued (images below), the colored glass fading away and the monochrome interior playing up the core's mass over any impact from a use of color.

Upstairs, the studios and offices are relatively sedate, though randomly sized and located window openings with colored jambs, heads and sills help to spice things up. In some areas the structural reality comes through, as the two-story-high truss members protrude into different spaces. Unfortunately once inside the "tabletop", the sense of being raised above the street and surroundings isn't directly perceived. Regardless, one's mind is aware of the unnatural situation, and some views to the street do create a sense of vertigo through the indirect perception of the stilts.

As mentioned earlier, Alsop and OCAD tried to create an icon while being sensitive to the surroundings. An indirect consequence of the final design is a series of unobstructed views in all directions, particularly towards downtown Toronto, to the south. So they have succeeded in their intentions, though hopefully the shock does not subside into boredom and kitsch. But since the painted exterior will require extra coats in the future, perhaps it can be a vehicle for students to update the building's public face in years to come.

[Google Earth link]

Worship Center

Worship Center in Kingston, Ontario, Canada by Mill & Ross Architects.

An experiment in gypsum construction, The MHS PCCC Worship Center in Kingston, Ontario, Canada by Mill & Ross Architects (now HDR Architecture) is a series of small, yet powerful, spaces that carves slots in its curvilinear construction for effect. Inserted into an existing space, the program consists of the main chapel, sacristy and reservation chapel.

The main entry hints at the spaces within through the framing of the doors, the combination of gypsum board with wood, and the location and type of lighting. Once inside the curved walls seem to peel away from each other to provide access to the individual spaces, wood accenting the otherwise monochromatic palette of the gypsum walls and acoustical ceiling tiles.

The primarily horizontal slots in the walls are broken here, rather effectively, in the shape of the cross. These slots serve many functions: breaking up the wall surfaces, allowing relative privacy through their size and locations, and creating the sensation of movement. Overall the openings and the curved walls make the project unique, something that would not be accomplished with either in isolation.

Above one can see (as in the previous image) the addition of a gypsum shelf that is used to hide some can lights to throw light down along the walls to the floor. This is done in a similar way as the entry, tying the inside and outside together, albeit in a subtle way. What remains is the appropriateness of the design to its function as a place for contemplation and prayer. The curved walls seem to embrace, an obvious allusion to St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, while the slots allow light to penetrate, relieving the spaces of any claustrophobia while alluding to a "place beyond".

Mosewich House

Mosewich House in Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada by D'Arcy Jones Design, 2003.

The following text and images (click for larger and expanded color views) are courtesy Vancouver-based D'Arcy Jones Design.

This pragmatic and inviting family house is perched on the edge of a steep slope in a suburban setting. Existing ponderosa pines, bunch-grass and sagebrush were carefully preserved by siting the house away from the street.

A private, sunny courtyard merges the kitchen and dining areas with the landscape. Intimate views of vegetation and exposed rock are a welcome contrast to long views towards the river valley below.

A robust, dark tinted stucco mass anchors the house to the ground, morphing to create courtyard walls, terraces, fireplace chimneys and structural shear-walls. Opposite, yet never quite touching, is a muted stucco mass bending asymmetrically to frame dramatic views. Interior spaces are defined by modulating the voids between these two contrasting stucco masses. When these stucco masses extend inside the house, the threshold is defined with floor-to-ceiling glass, translucent in some locations for privacy. (Click for first floor plan.)

Deep cantilevered overhangs provide both shade and upper level rock gardens. Carefully located operable windows provide effective cross-ventilation, eliminating reliance on air-conditioning. (Click for building section.)

Double-height dining and living spaces separate upper level bedroom wings. This central spatial "sigh" is naturally lit from two directions, admitting light deep into the interior. Punctuating this open space is a sculptural maple and steel stair, connecting all three levels of the house. (Click for upper level plan.)

Mirroring the formal language of the exterior, dissimilar interior materials never meet, separated by thin reveals. A refined exterior palette of smooth concrete, cement stucco, aluminum windows and red cedar is paired with an interior of white gypsum-board with maple and slate flooring; the theme of a two-tone stucco exterior is repeated inside by interlocking cherry and maple millwork. Built-in cherry ledges double as overflow seating and toy chests.

This house is located on the same street as my first built project, designed and built 7 years ago. This project continues and articulates an ongoing search for form, material and space finely tuned to the particulars of site and client, synthesizing simultaneous qualities of simplicity and complexity.

Gérald-Godin College

Gérald-Godin College

Gérald-Godin College in Sainte-Geneviève, Quebec, Canada by Saucier+Perrotte Architects, 1999.

Reusing, and adding to, a 1932 Jesuit monastery, the Gérald-Godin College in Ste-Geneviève by Montreal's Saucier + Perrotte Architects takes a contemporary view of relating to yesterday's buildings. Roughly the same size and height as the existing building, the addition breaks dramatically from the static, yet dignified, design of the original with a daring, angular form that seems to move both toward and away from the existing.

Consisting of classrooms, labs, offices, a library, a sports center, a cafe, and an auditorium, the college divides these spaces amongst the old and new buildings and an underground portion that links the two. This last maneuver gives the addition a contextual scale, so it stands apart from its surroundings through design instead of size. The metal- and glass-clad structure reveals itself at night (left) and during the day when white window shades contrast with the dark aluminum panels.

The image at left illustrates the designs overt attempt at bringing natural light to the subterranean spaces, the gymnasium and cafe. The light monitors also act as three-dimensional sculptural signs, indicating the shared entry created by the addition bridging this space. Between the addition above and the larger spaces below this forecourt help to bring the visitor into the realm of the College, appropriately in the joint between the old and new.

In the existing building, the architects cut away floors to create spaces for vertical circulation within the library, but also to bring daylight deep into the spaces through the small openings in the thick masonry walls. Here the contemporary flavor of the addition is extended into the existing, thereby becoming a cohesive whole that blends old and new.

[Google Earth link]

Mitchell-DeCario House

Mitchell-DeCario House

Mitchell-DeCario House in Galiano Island, Canada by Stephanie Forsythe Todd MacAllen Architecture, 1998.

The following text and images are by Stephanie Forsythe Todd MacAllen Architecture for their design of the Mitchell-DeCario House on Galiano Island, British Columbia, Canada.

This long narrow house consists of a series of rooms arranged along a hallway which has a gallery on one side and a library on the other. Following the shape of a natural stone plinth, the house is slightly kinked. The shape is perceived in the gallery/hallway as a transition from the public spaces of the house to the private areas. The kink also affects views and the way south light enters.

Sunlight bounces off wood and white plastered surfaces and renders soft indirect light onto the artwork. Ever shifting splashes of reflected color (yellow, blue, green, pink and violet from the sky, trees and wild flowers) also light the walls and floors, depending on the time of day and season.

The douglas fir timbers which make up the exposed roof structure and cladding boards were hors- logged and milled on site. The timbers exposed to the interior effectively moderate indoor moisture levels. The yellow cedar floor, salvaged from a local demolished tennis court, was also machined on site. Its polished, butter-like color reflects a warm sunlit glow, even on overcast days. The large dining table and interior doors were also made from salvaged lumber.

Museum of Archaeology and History

Museum of Archaeology and History

Museum of Archaeology and History in Montreal, Quebec, Canada by Dan S. Hanganu Architects, 1992.

The following text and images are by Dan S. Hanganu Architects for their award-winning Museum of Archaeology and History (aka Pointe-à-Callière) in Montréal, Quebec, Canada, completed in 1992.

"Memory and inventory" constitute the major themes employed in the elaboration of this project. Given the significance of the site, the architecture of the museum's components is influenced by the events which have taken place here since the founding of Montreal, and where more than six centuries of history are superimposed.

The museum is comprised of three elements: a new building called the "Eperon", a crypt, and the former Customs House. The "Eperon" constitutes the focal point of the project. A work of masonry, it fills the triangular form of the site and respects the massing of the former Royal Insurance Building, the last occupant of this historic place. By recreating its morphology, the construction tightens the perspective of Place d'Youville and re-establishes the continuity of the urban façade of de la Commune Street towards the St. Lawrence River.

The tower, a visual point of reference, recalls in a contemporary manner the former campanile of the Royal Insurance Building and marks the entry to the museum. Contrasts of solidity and transparency are found throughout the museum and together underline the permanence of the site and the discovery of the ruins.

[Google Earth link]