Branksome Hall was established as an independent all girls school in the residential South Rosedale Heritage Conservation District in the urban heart of the City of Toronto, Canada — now a leading International Baccalaureate (IB) World School. The campus is set within a large 13-acre property characterized by lush, wooded ravine edges and open green spaces. The city’s extension of Mount Pleasant Road divided the campus into two sides and the students cross via a pedestrian bridge.
The new Athletic and Wellness Centre serves as the campus-wide meeting and gathering space with places to watch sport and provides informal studying spaces. It is a 2-storey, with green roof, building that includes an aquatic centre with teaching and training pools, gymnasium, fitness centre, yoga and dance studios, dining hall, servery, kitchen, open courtyards, ravine terraces, and administration and support spaces. The challenge was to fit the large volumes onto the building footprint and the requirements of competition volleyball in the gymnasium, with a 12m height restriction in the Rosedale residential neighbourhood. The aquatic hall is set one level lower with the gymnasium floating above. A series of transparent walkways with interconnected ground and second floors encourage students to pass by and see athletics – inspiring involvement in the athletic community. Large program spaces are balanced with intimate social interaction learning spaces with visual connections to nature and the ravine.
The new facility complements and provides a direct connection to its heritage and natural surroundings with a natural palette of materials, finishes, and textiles; with transparent views and abundant natural light permeating deep into program spaces and student commons. The subdued natural palette of concrete, light wood, masonry, stone and glass establishes an appropriate neutral backdrop to the colourful school uniforms, team jerseys and student life. Exterior glazing allow visibility to the life within, showcasing the Branksome Hall functions and creating an open and inviting public identity.