Ontario House for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Pavilion / Hariri Pontarini Architects

© Andrew Doran Photography, Photo Courtesy of

The Ontario Pavilion for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games was designed as a physical and experiential gateway to Ontario. The pavilion provided a unique impression of Ontario’s lively character and had over 170,000 visitors. With an exterior translucent screen projecting varying degrees of visibility, the structure prompted visitors to shift their perception of what defines transparency.

Architects: Hariri Pontarini Architects
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Partner-in-Charge: Siamak Hariri
Collaborators: Lord Cultural Resources, Ellis Don Corporation, Nussli Event Construction, Infinite Stage Design, Iredale Group
Project Area: 14,600 sqf
Photographs: Andrew Doran Photography, Hariri Pontarini Architects

© Andrew Doran Photography, Photo Courtesy of Hariri Pontarini Architects

Ontario’s story at the 2010 Olympics was organized around the accessible, welcoming and exciting themes of “Play, Live, Succeed” – the fundamental organizing principles for both the exterior and interior experiences of the Pavilion. As a founding metaphor, the Pavilion referenced Niagara Falls – one of Ontario’s most recognizable icons, and foremost gateways to Ontario. The flow and drama of Niagara Falls, constantly in a state of movement and renewal, symbolizes the dynamism of Ontario’s history and future. Surrounded by 4 great lakes, Ontario’s story is intertwined with water. The exterior enclosure of the Pavilion mimics this energetic flow and misting of water with over 40 kilometres of continuously up-lit, fabric wrapped panels and curtains of cable rope integrated with medium resolution digitized LED array walls, capable of displaying large-scale panoramic video and messaging. A recessed trough set within the exterior raised floor concealed a continuous line of lighting. The coloured uplighting was choreographed to animate the shimmering façades of the Pavilion, creating a lively shimmering surface to seduce visitors inside.

© Andrew Doran Photography, Photo Courtesy of Hariri Pontarini Architects

The Pavilion comprised of 14,600 gross square feet of enclosed space, and was separated into 10,200 square feet of front-of-house exhibition/event space, and 4,400 square feet of back-of-house service space. The front-of-house space was dynamic and flexible, clear span with no immediate columns. The event stage was designed as a circular platform supported on hydraulic jacks. During exhibition, gaming, or catering functions, the stage lowered to become flush with the remainder of the flooring, allowing the space to remain contiguous. During a staged event or concert, the stage lifted on the hydraulic jacks to a raised position for improved visibility.

© Andrew Doran Photography, Photo Courtesy of Hariri Pontarini Architects

A modular frame raised flooring system, measuring 24” high, covered the footprint of the Pavilion site. Within, the raised floor concealed all electrical, data, communications, plumbing and displacement ventilation systems. Decorative, non-slip recycled composite wood and rubber floor panels covered the entire floor surface – depicting an interactive mosaic of Ontario. The raised floor extended to the outdoor space and gradually sloped down at a grade gentler than 1:20 to meet existing grade level at the south perimeter of the site. Therefore no stairs, ramps or handrails were required, and all washrooms and back-of-house spaces were fully accessible for all visitors and staff.

© Andrew Doran Photography, Photo Courtesy of Hariri Pontarini Architects

The interior space of the Pavilion was generally divided into 3 zones, supporting the theme of “Play, Live, Succeed”. Each zone was separated by lightweight partitions, 15 feet high. These partitions were connected to a robust fly-rigging system, capable of lifting them into the ceiling space. During exhibition times, the partitions were used to divide the space according to theme, and became backdrops for projected images and interactive digital projections for active gaming. For concert settings, these partitions were hoisted to create an open space for visitors. The majority of the building envelope materials were insulated to MNECB requirements. The mechanical system made use of heat recovery technology and utilized under floor displacement for maximum efficiency. Heat generated from the lighting systems was calculated as part of the total heat load, with LED lighting use extensively as a low-energy alternative to incandescent lighting. Rainwater was collected from the roof of the structure and cycled into a grey water system, used to flush all toilets and fixtures, all of which were low and dual-flush.

Marking Ontario’s leadership in the field of sustainable design and innovation, the Pavilion showcased energy and water efficiency, with all materials recycled after dismantling the structure. Great care was taken to ensure the ecological footprint of Ontario House was minimized as much as possible. All materials of the Pavilion were lightweight, recyclable, low-energy and easily transportable. The roof structure featured a lightweight long-span steel truss, which was completely recycled after the Pavilion was dismantled. The PVC roof membrane, Ontario plywood roof sheathing and framing joists were dismantled and donated to Habitat for Humanity for re-use. The exterior rope cable system of the exterior façade were constructed from synthetically-coated natural fibres, and upon dismantling, these ropes were sold for re-use.

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Cite: "Ontario House for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Pavilion / Hariri Pontarini Architects" 08 Apr 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed 24 Nov 2014. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=124744>