The challenge: Design a flexible, visually engaging event space and office environment reflecting the diversity and unique culture of Deaf people.
Quadrangle’s mandate for the Deaf Culture Centre was to create a meeting place for promoting and celebrating the achievements of Canada’s Deaf community. Within a limited space – a retrofitted heritage building in Toronto’s Distillery District – the design thoughtfully blends functional requirements to create an exciting multi-use environment. The open-concept ground floor is an exhibit area that can be used for events and group gatherings; it also has a kitchen for cooking demonstrations and a gift shop. The second floor houses offices, archives, a multimedia studio and an all-purpose boardroom. Using moveable walls and screens, spaces can expand to accommodate up to 200 people. Throughout, the unique priorities of the Deaf are reflected in all elements – notably the vibrant colour palette, as well as the bold graphics derived from sign language by designer Bruce Mau. Other considerations include ledges for placing personal belongings (so hands can be free for signing) and glass panels between offices to ensure sightlines.