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.
FIRST PEOPLES HOUSE in British Columbia, Canada by Formline Architecture + Urbanism
August 1st, 2013 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: Formline Architecture + Urbanism
Located at the University of Victoria on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada this building was designed to accommodate the Indigenous Graduate Student Union. The House aspires to be a welcoming home for Aboriginal students and an inclusive and healing place for the local and global Indigenous community and non-Indigenous people alike.
CLIENT AND ARCHITECTURAL PROJECT TEAM
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The building is comprised of classrooms, offices, study spaces, ceremonial space and lounges for elders and students. The design of the building is inspired aesthetically and philosophically from the indigenous Coast Salish culture. The First Peoples House embodies traditional Coast Salish building principlesin its’ ability to mediate the environment, maximize sunlight, ventilation, natural resources and local materials.
The post-and-beam Douglas Fir glulam structure, inspired by the Coast Salish longhouse, has primary components clad in Clear A 1×10 & 2×10 clear edge grain western red cedar. The cedar is salvaged logs from the northwest coast of Vancouver Island by the Dididat Nation. The building is broken into 3 discrete elements (classrooms, Ceremonial Hall, administration) connected by glazed curtain wall. The upper roof drains all water into a storm water retention pond and the lower roof is planted with indigenous grasses.
The building is passively cooled and reduces energy by use of a low velocity displacement ventilation system. This sustainable approach is inspired from the Coastal Salish Long house which had a smoke vent at the top and perimeter cedar planks at the bottom of the walls were raised to allow a low level draft for the fire pit. Modeled on this system a combination of user controlled and DDC control operable windows and vents surround the building.
One 100% outdoor Air Handling unit serves heating and ventilation requirements and feeds air below the floor at the perimeter of the building. Heating is supplied by the University central heat main system. Stratification moves air through offset acoustic louvres into the corridor where it is returned to the ventilation unit or exhausted through DDC controlled windows at the highest point in the building.
Art is integral to First Nations culture and this project incorporates carved western red cedar house posts, carved ceremonial doors and eight carved panels in its Ceremonial Hall. Woven cedar panels line the Hall walls and are inspired by the bull rush mats traditionally found in long house interiors to break the draft.
The site design incorporates existing footpaths, supplemented with the reintroduction of low-maintenance indigenous plants, waterfall and storm-water retention pond. All these natural features contribute to building’s overall calming and magnificent presence. The project received LEED Gold certification in 2011.
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