Last week, we covered the winners of Alberta’s Wood WORKS! 2022 Prairie Wood Design Awards program. This prestigious group of leading architects, engineers, and project teams is being recognized for their contributions to advancing the use of wood in construction through design excellence, advocacy, and innovation. This year’s winners showcased architecturally appealing and sophisticated designs which featured locally sourced wood. In this article, we’ll cover the winners of the Commercial, Recreational, and Residential categories as well as the winner of the Industry Award.
Commercial: 300 West Block, gec architecture
As the front door to the West Block and a central element of the first phase of redevelopment, the project utilized mass timber as the primary structure and architectural feature. The three-storey mass timber building is built over a two-storey parking structure to form the plaza surface. Douglas fir glue-laminated columns and beams support a GLT deck, providing tenants with a flexible and unique opportunity. The project accommodates a wide range of commercial uses on the main floor, including a coffee shop, restaurant, wine bar, flower shop, and daycare. The upper levels are dedicated to office space, including GEC Architecture’s Edmonton Studio. The flexible wood design allowed for an interconnecting stair to be added to the project during construction to allow a daycare tenant to occupy the main and second floors.
The front of the house features two thoughtfully crafted wood elements. The wood beams sit above concrete knife plates connected by geometrically joining dowels. This innovative design feature allows for moisture wicking and quick drying of the wood, thereby preventing deterioration from standing water. Secondly, cedar shake shingles encase the house’s northwest corner and the southwest entry. The weather-resistant horizontally arranged cedar wood shingles are dipped in a dark translucent stain, thereby increasing their lifespan and conjuring a visual experience reminiscent of the Shou-sugi-ban technique.
The rear of the home further emphasizes aesthetic wood elements of the timber frame in the roof overhang and the ceiling of the outdoor living space. As seen in the front, cedar shake wood shingles line the rear body of the home, meeting the concrete base. The diminishing view of non-wood materials creates geometric patterns between the wood elements and the second-storey window, mirroring the setback view of the primary second-storey mass.
Industry Award: Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden Community Centre, SONGER architecture inc.
The project presented unique design challenges as the Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden Society requested an iconic building that wouldn’t overwhelm the existing award-winning garden. Visitors are welcomed inside the building at its humblest point, the roof’s valley. Once inside, the space broadens into an open commons area with a fully glazed view of the garden and existing pavilion.
The available funds met the Society’s growing needs and required skillful planning to design a functional yet beautiful building. Japanese design focuses on simple forms, references to nature, and natural treatment of materials. The interior spaces respect and reflect these concepts. The ample community space and the exhibit room feature hardwood flooring – providing texture and visual warmth. In a nod to traditional Japanese Oak, White Oak is used throughout the interior for hardwood floors, millwork, and interior doors. On the exterior, dense Yellow Balau Batu tongue and groove flank the recessed visitor entry and embellish a column at the staff entry. These wooden highlights create a focal point for visitor entry while providing visual relief to the stucco exterior.
Recreational: Waskesiu Beach House, 1×1 architecture inc.
The new Beach House located in the town of Waskesiu within Prince Albert National Park is defined by a simple gable roof which encloses a picnic area, washrooms, showers and changing facilities. The differing seasonal requirements for the building’s components create a ‘Portal,’ which serves as a framed entry point for beachgoers. The framed view is reminiscent of a picture-perfect postcard with glimpses of a lake sunset or a herd of elk wading in the water beyond. The minimal material palette comprises glazed concrete masonry units, thermally treated wood cladding and a translucent glass channel system.
Award winners will receive a customized wooden trophy to acknowledge their ability to push the boundaries of wood in construction.
“The winning projects go above and beyond in demonstrating design excellence and innovation in their use of wood as a building material,” says Rory Koska, Program Director of Wood WORKS! Alberta. “They are simply spectacular visually and sophisticated in their designs and truly demonstrate the epitome of what construction with wood looks like. They help us to showcase the importance of using wood in construction to embrace sustainable and ethically sound building techniques.”