The future seat of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation government, health, cultural and community services is the first phase of a campus-style village centre located on a site overlooking the Burrard Inlet. During 10,000+ years of history, Tsleil-Waututh Nation has developed sophisticated art, philosophy, social structure, and building technology using the versatile properties of wood from the Pacific forest, particularly cedar. The values of that important cultural heritage are embodied in the design of the new Administration and Health Centre and were developed through an integrated design process with the entire team of sub-consultants and in close collaboration with representatives of the Tsleil-Waututh community. The building is sensitively placed on a north-south axis and follows the course of a creek on the east side of the site taking advantage of the relationship between the water and forest. A strong synergy between the interior and exterior spaces is incorporated in the design so that the surrounding nature and views of the ocean can be appreciated inside and out.
Tsleil-Waututh means “People of the Inlet”. The symbiotic connection between Tsleil-Waututh culture and the sea is embodied in the wavy forms of the roof. The largest roof form is over a central, multi-
purpose Gathering Space that will be the heart of community events and a Council Chamber that will provide the seat of government.
Four cedar log columns and cedar log beams, symbolic of traditional structures, define the Chamber. The Chamber can be easily adapted to be closed off for privacy or opened up to provide an addition to the Gathering Space. The cedar-clad walls will provide a background for permanent or temporary displays of traditional and contemporary art created by Tsleil-Waututh artists.
The structure, utilizing engineered wood products and natural lumber, is a combination of post and beam frames infilled with glazing and a limited amount of strategically placed shear walls, requiring precision pre-manufacturing off-site. This design exposes every element of the structure as an architectural feature and demands skillful concealment of the mechanical/electrical networks.
Extensive fenestration allows for plenty of natural light minimizing the need for artificial lighting, while operable windows provide natural ventilation to individual offices. Mechanical units provide heating and cooling to each office and are individually controlled. Green roofs are a feature element, planted with indigenous plant species to help regulate the indoor temperature, save energy and encourage endemic biodiversity.
The quality and clarity of the interiors are created by exposing every structural building element without the need for additional artificial interior finishes. This approach of almost furniture-like assembly of construction elements presents a great challenge – incorporating significant technical infrastructure without being visible. The hidden technical infrastructure contains heating, cooling, ventilation, acoustics, audiovisual, electrical distribution, lighting distribution, fire protection and the security network.