Conservation Studio 4
Studio Advisor: Federica Goffi
Building on the existing vision for The Ottawa Hospital, Civic Campus, this studio was tasked with designing the Welcome Center (WC) managed by Volunteer Resources. The approach taken by this project focuses on creating a design that addresses the factors of physical and mental healing. By creating a pleasant environment in the WC, these individuals will be uplifted as they begin their healing process.
Two factors in particular stood out as the main sources for relaxation - Nature and Sunlight. These became the overarching concepts that directed the design of the Visitors Centre. As seen from the master plan, the site follows a polycentric design that directs the flow of vehicular and pedestrian circulation, along with the orientation of the building masses. Given the proximity to the Central Experimental Farm, the buildings are strategically placed to respect the existing mature trees while offering views of the existing heritage site. Vehicular access to the hospital is separated into two streams - the central ring for patients and visitors, and the outer ring for ambulatory access to the Emergency services. Finally, the large green space at the centre of the site creates a forested park that always ensures a visual connection to nature.
Although humans have become used to the typical four wall design of a building, sometimes the most comfortable shelters are those that represent the natural realm. To put that into perspective, the main Visitors Centre features an atrium in which a large Tree grows from the centre – creating a sheltered canopy for those below. Draped fabric interweaves between the branches creating the impression of a tree in full bloom. As sunlight from above enters the space, it is filtered by the fabric creating a gentle glow that illuminates those entering the hospital on their path to recovery. At the base, a recessed lounge offers a private nook
where one can take a moment to de-stress and enjoy their surroundings. Encircling the lounge, one finds the Info Desk and Admissions – easily visible from anywhere within the atrium.
The Biophilic use of Architecture throughout the Centre breaks from the institutional design common among hospitals. These decisions were inspired by teachings from Heliotherapy - healing using sunlight - in an effort to begin patient recovery from the moment they enter the building.
The design of the Welcome Centre splits up the daily traffic into two streams. The first, is the inpatient stream and is seen along the top hallway. This stream is allocated for programs including clinics, examination, and patient rooms. The second, is the visitor and outpatient stream seen along the bottom hallway. This stream follows the inside ring of the hospital and as a result has a continuous visual connection with the green space at the centre of the site. This double story hallway- deemed the “scenic route” - features commercial and retail spaces along the lower level, and regular hospital programs along the second-floor mezzanine. In addition, the third floor sees the introduction of an exterior terrace that offers space for relaxation and physical therapy sessions.
As has become evident by the COVID-19 pandemic, adaptability is essential to surviving emergency situations. Accordingly, the proposal for Symbiosis incorporates a conceptual plan for compartmentalizing the hospital. This is done through the use of partition walls embedded in the existing layout. By separating the two flows of traffic - high risk and general patients - this design minimizes the risk of transmitting infectious diseases during emergency situations. Next, the orientation of the entrance for high risk patients to admissions ensures that these individuals are offered their own waiting area and circulation through the hospital - separate from all other shared spaces
Canopy Tree Detail
Natural light is a key element that can alleviate stress making it essential to integrate into a hospital setting. As a result, the decision was made early on to use PTFE fibreglass membrane due to its translucency, flexibility and bacteria resistance. The membrane will weave between the Tree’s branches and trunk filtering light from above and creating a canopy-like space below - creating the ambiance of walking under the foliage in a forest where light peaks through between the leaves of trees.
Another essential component of the Canopy detail is the kinetic design on the PTFE Fabric. Through the use of a mechanical cable system, the slack and tightness of the Fabric can be altered to control the amount of light penetrating the space. Furthermore, this system allows for easy maintenance of the fabric as the cables can descend to the main level (See below).
Vertical Louvre Detail
Vertical Louvres are advantageous to the overall building performance when it comes to structures that use the curtain wall system. They can increase ventilation, minimize overheating during the summer, and maximize heat gain during the winter. As a result, Symbiosis uses Vertical Louvres to maximize building efficiency while following the ideals of Biophilic architecture to create a “living” exterior element.
The Louvres follow the organic shape of the building by undulating along the vertical axis. This not only aesthetically breaks the repeated forms but also creates natural openings - indicating an entrance to the hospital. In order to create a material connection with the Welcome Centre, the Louvres cladding is composed of stretched PTFE Fabric. This ensures that any direct sunlight can be diffused to a gentle glow as it enters the building (Fig. 22).
Finally, the Vertical Louvres are attached to a mechanical system that allows for a 60-degree rotation. This means that the louvres can provide shading for hospital at any time during the day (See Below). While this is ideal during the summer, the system can also be altered to allow more light to flood during the winter.