Text description provided by the architects. From the project’s inception, Langara College was looking to address the educational and spatial needs of the school, as well as create a sustainable environment to incorporate the new Library and Classroom program. In addition to designing the building, Teeple Architects designed a master plan that offers a strategy to realize the environmentally responsible vision of the College’s future. The decision to create a LEED Gold Campus, supported by sustainable built and natural features, was the starting point for the overall Langara scheme.
Project Year 2007
The design philosophy is based on considering formal and environmental issues as one in the same. The appearance, program and ecological features of the building all inform one another so directly, that they are indistinguishable. Wind and rain warp the building’s roof, while Wind Towers are displaced vertically from the roof’s surface. The warped surface of the roof lifts the wind into the towers, pulling air through the interior spaces. Gardens and exterior public spaces push into the building, bringing greenery and daylight into the mass of the building and registering in its final figure. The interior spaces respond to the environmental forces acting on and within the building as well. The main vertical circulation spine surrounds the Wind Tower voids, and in turn, forms the principle public interiors of the building.
The elimination of typical HVAC systems, and their replacement with geothermal heating and cooling in combination with natural displacement ventilation, results in a highly energy efficient building. A weather station on the roof senses wind direction, speed and humidity, and through a computerized control system, activates vent windows in the wind towers, which allow the wind to drive air through the building. This method is not only used as a substitute for conventional heating and air conditioning, it is the expressive force underlying the experience of the architecture. Fresh air is brought into the building through a wind-scoop that becomes an iconic element in the new student quad. The air, contained in a duct ring, is tempered by passing through the underground parking, prior to entering the building. Interior climate control is further achieved through ground source heating and cooling, which adjusts the temperature of the building's concrete thermal mass. The impact of these measures on energy use is significant.
Indoor air quality sensors monitor and adjust the air temperature, humidity, CO2 content and movement, ensuring its quality. The bright interiors are naturally lit, and sensors adjust the artificial lighting when necessary. The ratio of glazing to solid wall adheres to LEED Gold requirements for optimal daylight without overheating the interior.
The shape of the reflective roof gathers the rainwater into cisterns below the building, and then pumps the water back to irrigate the new landscape. Storm water is processed through a sequence of bio swales along the west elevation. The swales are planted with vegetation and compost designed to remove silt and pollution from surface runoff. Inside the building, low flush toilets and waterless urinals reduce the water use by 30%.
The primary building material is concrete. The concrete mixture includes recycled content, namely fly ash. Leaving the concrete completely exposed, the building requires little to no interior or exterior maintenance. Other materials include Low Emitting adhesives, sealants, paints, carpets and composite woods. The concrete thermal mass stores heat and significantly reduces the requirement for active heating and cooling systems. 10% of building is recycled content, which includes carpet tile, walnut doors and composite material in the millwork. Over 20% of the building materials are local and regional products, including the concrete, drywall and wood.