Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.
Newmarket Operations Centre in Canada by RDH Architects
July 7th, 2011 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: RDH Architects
Municipal operations centres rarely attract attention from architects or the public, but the maintenance of our physical environment and infrastructure is critical to the well-being of any community. The design of the Newmarket Operations Centre aims to celebrate these services through the creation of a new local landmark while meeting complex technical requirements in a robust and economical structure. The project embodies a pragmatic rethinking of the municipal operations centre and sets a new national standard for the design of this under-appreciated building type.
The site is a former brownfield overlooking a major entry-point into Newmarket. The main building consolidates three municipal departments and includes offices, meeting and training spaces, and facilities for the storage, repair and washing of vehicles and equipment. The eleven hectare site also includes parking, a works yard, outdoor materials storage, a salt and sand shed and a greenhouse.
A one-storey change in grade is exploited to minimize cut and fill while ensuring a secure separation between public access at the upper level and the works yard below. A 4.2 m high gabion basket retaining wall defines the public parking area and a landscaped extension of the building’s green roof, creating the illusion, when viewed from the north, of two distinct structures.
The project is conceived as a linear sequence of parallel programmatic bars alternating in character and height. The public atrium and fleet work areas are grand halls flooded with daylight, while all other spaces are arranged within the lower interstitial volumes. The resulting crenellated building section provides natural locations for recessed mechanical roofs (hidden from exterior view with perforated metal windscreens) and the accessible green roof. A single circulation spine threads together all spaces and allows for secure checkpoints between public, administrative and fleet areas, many of which operate at different hours.
The atrium is surrounded by offices, green exterior space, meeting and training rooms and a cafeteria, and serves as the arrival and social space for all visitors and staff. The grand stair doubles as an informal amphitheater for morning muster.
The three large fleet work areas are served by twenty overhead bifold doors, all clad in double glazed curtain wall. In the summer months these doors can be left open throughout the day to create a seamless indoor/outdoor work space. The suspended galvanized wire mesh ceiling prevents birds from nesting within the roof structure.
The Operations Centre project is expected to achieve LEED Silver status. Green strategies include geothermal heating and cooling, solar heating of domestic hot water, charging stations for electric vehicles, a reflective membrane roof, the collection of rainwater to irrigate the green roof, and naturalized vegetation at the site perimeter.
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