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Branksome Hall Athletics and Wellness Centre

12 Mar 2020
Image Credit: Shai Gil
Architectural Credit: MacLennan Jaunkalns Miller Architects Ltd.
Location: Toronto, Ont.
Architect: MacLennan Jaunkalns Miller Architects, Ltd. (MJMA)
OAA Design Excellence Awards Finalist

As part of an initiative to instill life-long health and wellness practices, Branksome Hall’s new Athletic and Wellness Centre (AWC) provides students with the opportunity to exercise their body and mind, delivering athletic programming in conjunction with nutrition and food services. A campus-wide meeting and gathering space, the AWC provides a place to watch, interact and engage with athletic and wellness. The two-storey, 64,000-sf facility delivers accessible ravine and rooftop terraces, an aquatic centre with teaching and training pools, a gymnasium, fitness centre, dryland rowing centre, yoga and dance studios, dining hall, servery, open courtyards, and administrative and support spaces.

The design solution provides a direct connection to the campus’s storied heritage and natural surroundings, employing a natural palette of materials, finishes, and textiles along with transparent views and abundant natural light. Bound by residential height regulations, and further limited by stormwater management requirements and mounting pressure from neighbouring residents, the AWC maximizes its available footprint by placing the aquatic hall below grade and stacking the gymnasium above. Girded by a series of transparent glazed walkways that connect the ground floor to the second storey, the upper volume seemingly floats above the ground.
With a strong focus on occupant health and wellness, the AWC pursued a series of sustainable design measures in an effort to reduce operating costs, limit environmental impacts and improve the quality of the indoor environment. To comply with the Toronto Ravine Conservation Authority, the project maintained its ravine set-backs, re-naturalizing the ravine edge through the incorporation of bio-swales. It also incorporates a stormwater collection cistern, and employs heat recovery in the pool hall, as well as LED lighting throughout. A highly efficient building envelope paired with solar heat-gain controlled glazing reduces undue demands on the buildings systems.
Careful consideration through the site planning and design process sought to ensure the well-being and health of all students, resulting in an open and welcoming building that engenders a strong sense of community and fosters inclusivity. Interconnected through a series of transparent walkways that encourage interaction and engagement with the school’s programming, sightlines throughout the facility allow students to take part-in or observe ongoing activities. Large program spaces are balanced with intimate social interaction zones, providing learning, study, and socialization space with visual connections to nature and the surrounding ravine.

                                                      Image Credit: Shai Gil

                                                        Image Credit: Shai Gil

                                                      Image Credit: Shai Gil

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