The recently completed expansion to the North Delta Recreation Centre creates a new civic address, one that rejuvenates a tired, but well used community facility. This new addition delivers a full size gymnasium, a municipal business centre, a fitness centre, and a spectrum of related arts and recreation spaces. After opening in early 2016, the North Delta Recreation Centre has firmly established itself as a new civic icon for the local community it serves.
Theory and Design Principals:
Though the existing facility was well used by the local community, despite its lack of windows and natural light, it was prone to vandalism and crime. In response, the client envisioned a new facility that would provide a welcoming and safe environment for the community of North Delta to enjoy throughout the year. A meaningful reduction in vandalism and crime could be achieved through the implementation of simple strategies, such as defensible site planning, optimizing views to and from the building, and establishing auditory connections between spaces.
Strategically positioned at the extreme south-west corner of the existing building the new building creates a gasket between new and old through the design of a dual-sided entry that addresses the fragmented ends of the site and activates a new outdoor public amenity space. The design of the resultant void space makes reference to the Japanese concept of ma, a term not readily available in the English language. Ma actively describes the physical and emotive characteristics of void space, suggesting that a precise spatial cadence results in an awareness of the void, and is experientially dependent upon interval and transition. This sequence of spatial experiences was the conceptual driver behind a layered approach that creates multiple opportunities for interval and pause. The design of these residual void spaces were developed to simultaneously enhance public arrival and access, improve pedestrian and vehicular circulation, and optimize visual connections, all in a concerted effort to remediate the ongoing parking and site security issues. The new outdoor amenity spaces accommodate a wide range of flexible programming, which access a new shared lobby that acts as the heart of the new shared facility.
Program and Client:
The North Delta Recreation Centre acts as a satellite Municipal Hall for the citizens of North Delta, which is a result of its disconnected relationship with the main City Hall, located across Highway 99 in Ladner. As a result, this facility provides a wide range of services to the local community, including tax collection, a variety of indoor and outdoor sports, and several arts programs. The original campus of buildings on site contained an aging fire hall, which acted as a centre for the arts; as well as a separate building out of which a local potter’s guild which operated: both buildings were considered to be at the end of their respective life spans. The design team worked with the stakeholder group to consolidate all arts and recreation programs around a common, shared lobby space. Through the tactical re-organization of program the team was able to incorporate program spaces into the new facility that were initially outside the program brief, such as the tiered indoor amphitheatre seating, which created the opportunity to insert change room program beneath. This process of program analysis was analogous to the act of “de-fragmenting the hard-drive,” where overlaps and redundant spaces could be effectively removed or consolidated. The resultant space is conceived of as a social condenser, which acts as the primary lobby and gathering space, creating a common point of access into all program spaces, new and old.
The organizational strategy for the program focused on placing the new arts and athletics programs up front and on display. The new main reception desk is located at the centre of the lobby, establishing direct visual connection to the new program spaces and the new connective link to the existing building. A new central elevator, ramp to the change rooms, outdoor pool access, and stair to the upper level fitness and yoga studios, all intersect at this critical nexus, which provides visitors with an intuitive legible means of wayfinding. The design and development of a 100% universal change room is a first in British Columbia. This new change room model sets a new standard in Canadian public facility design, drawing from European concepts in aquatics and public facility design, which are highly efficient and fully inclusive.
Context and Site:
The site is contained within a disparate collection of municipal buildings, including the adjacent North Delta Public Safety Building, Delta Police Department, as well as Richardson Elementary School. Surface parking dominated the existing site, which was accessed from 84th Avenue, a high volume thoroughfare in North Delta; while the facility lacked a clear and legible main entrance. The main draw to the existing building is the arena, which was accessed on the opposite end from the main entrance. Several studies were undertaken to position the new building in a location that simultaneously addressed the existing surface parking to the west, the main area to the east and the existing outdoor pool to the south. The result of the studies lead the design team to position the new building between the pool deck and the existing arena entrance. A new lobby level effectively mitigates the change in grade, which allows universal access to the pool and associated change rooms, as well as the connective link to the existing facility.
Operating with a limited budget, the client elected to pursue a LEED-Silver equivalent building. Working within the budget constraints the design team worked to identify a several passive strategies to maximize building performance, with a special focus placed on two categories: storm water management, and natural ventilation and daylighting. With an almost windowless existing building isolated in the midst of a sea of parking, these two objectives were considered a high priority. The excessive accumulation of surface water on the site was a direct result of the surface parking and service roads, exacerbated by arena functions and large unmanaged tributary roof areas. New access and entrance roads were designed to create internal ground water retention areas, which are then managed through a series of bio-swales. Water runoff from the roof of the new building is directed into these new collection areas, effectively reducing the load on the storm water system.
The second critical sustainability initiative was to introduce abundant natural light into all of the interior spaces, fully automated with daylight sensors. Glazing is incorporated into all program spaces, which range from oversized glass panels in the gymnasium, to small panels in the individual shower stalls that allow natural daylight to flood the space. The interior volume of the shared lobby is dominated by three large, triangular roof monitors that flood the lobby with natural light. Daylight models were rigorously developed to maximize the efficiency of these skylights, which are strategically oriented to minimize glare and maximizing interior daylight throughout the day and seasons. Upon opening the new facility the staff has found that the majority of the program spaces require no artificial lighting during normal operating hours.