A company of influenza vaccines in Quebec City recently invited four architectural firms to participate in a contest to construct a highly distinctive administration building that would also be exemplary in energy efficiency. Our proposal based on both innovation and sustainable development, was chosen as the winner.
The building site had poor soil quality and was practically void of vegetation. The recommended approach to the landscaping as to restore it to its original natural state. Promoting biodiversity and the replenishment of groundwater to ensure the growth of the native plants that were reintroduced, the finished landscape contributes not only to the quality of the interior spaces but to the reenergizing of the occupants as well.
Similarly, the building with its organic silhouette has been placed here in symbiosis with the climate, much like an animal ingeniously adapted to its environment as a matter of survival. It faces the south, protected aesthetically from solar heat gains by a system of sunshades integrated into a fully-glazed, double-skinned envelope with translucent metal panels on the east and west sides.
On the north side, the building envelope is designed to conserve energy in the cold of winter. These techniques have been employed to provide comfortable, indoor environments lit abundantly by natural light which, their occupants have reported, has an invigorating effect.
Full transparency on the south side permits the exposure of the wooden skeleton whose frames have been refined to express the warm, organic characteristic desired. Ecologically, this structure achieves carbon neutrality while contributing to the richness of the interior spaces. Based on bioclimatic principles, an energy efficient environment improves the quality of life of the workers.
The main work areas were placed on the north side to shield them from glare and fluctuations in solar radiation, and to provide an unobstructed outside view throughout the day. A radiant heating system provides warmth while at the same time, soundproofing the wooden decking on the lower level. Chilled beams and acoustic panels that diffuse the light make up a customized system that allows the richness of the structural wood to be seen without compromising the quality of the acoustics.
Lining the south façade are the so-called "interactive spaces" and lounges where the occupants are encouraged to take their breaks and socialize in a comfortable and relaxing environment. Depending on their usage, the temperature in each of these spaces can be controlled through natural ventilation or by increasing direct solar radiation to create a rich, energizing luminosity which acts as a form of light therapy.
The unanimous satisfaction expressed by the occupants of the building translates into increases in creativity, productivity and benefits for the company. The success of this project, therefore, has the potential to change attitudes in a way that the administrative sector can better contribute to the quality of the urban landscape, and especially, towards sustainable development.