At the outset of this project, we were challenged by our clients to re-vision an existing building in an effort to both communicate their brand, as well as playfully interact with the broader community. One of the initial constraints we needed to consider was reanimating the front façade of a building made of concrete and wedged up tightly against the front property line. Added to this challenge was an extremely restrictive budget and an outdated Area Redevelopment Plan (ARP) that leaned heavily towards the retention of heritage and traditional design elements.
Working within the limits of these constraints, we developed a screen comprised of vertical fins made from 100 year-old fir reclaimed from an abandoned granary in southern Alberta.
During the design process, we challenged ourselves to design the screen in such a fashion that it wasn’t merely a ‘tack on’, but rather performative in its function. Our decision to employ the derivative techniques associated with parametric design was in direct response to our desire to create a screen that captured a sense of movement. The screen exists in a constant state of flux as one moves past the building, whether on foot or in a vehicle. A topological-like relief of varying depths was applied to the vertical fins, creating alternating fields of opacity and transparency when viewed from different angles. This effect facilitates a dialogue between the street and the users of the building.
In addition, given that the building looks out onto a relatively banal section of the 9th avenue corridor, the screen attenuates the view capturing snapshot-like instances of the traffic and street life, creating interest where before there was none.
Finally, to celebrate entry into the building the screen morphs from a vertical to a horizontal application above the front entry, forming a soffit condition that bleeds into the main reception area. As such the screen also acts as a way finding device, leading clients from the street up into the studio space.
This project received a 2015 Mayor’s Urban Design Award and a 2015 Prairie Wood Design Award