Architects: Mitchell Architects
- Area : 3836 m²
Photographs :Richard Johnson
Text description provided by the architects. One Kids Place Children’s Treatment Centre is a not-for-profit corporation providing regional rehabilitation and related support services. The new Children’s Treatment Centre in North Bay, Ontario Canada serves children and youth with communication, developmental and physical needs including, with a range of integrated services which include: occupational therapy, physiotherapy, speech language pathology, social work, therapeutic recreation and specialized medical clinics.
Context, design process, sustainable design features along with photographs following the break.
After an extensive site search led by the architect, a 5.9 acre previously undeveloped site was chosen. It was a somewhat orphaned parcel created by the re-orientation of surrounding municipal roads and adjacent highway many years ago. This infill site was considered ideal in size, proximity to the North Bay General Hospital, is highly visible and easily accessed by users.
To provide freedom of movement for all children, regardless of physical challenges, the centre is designed as a single storey structure at grade. The spaces are organized about an intimate courtyard which provides an outdoor space, sheltered from sights and sounds of traffic, for therapy, respite and occasionally celebration.
All major circulation spaces of the building are visually connected to the outdoors and most notably the courtyard, providing accessibility, natural light and orientation. Providing views to outdoors to aid in way-finding was an important driver in the design of the circulation systems.
The central east/west corridor and the waiting area are flooded with natural light from the south by a clerestory which runs it full length and provides borrowed light to the treatment rooms along it. In addition to high glazing to the courtyard and the clerestory, the central waiting area at the heart of building features two pyramidal skylights, one of which supports the six metre high Living Green Wall. In addition to its sensory appeal, the hydroponically grown plant material on the wall contributes to indoor air quality, functioning as a bio-filter through which the building’s return air is mechanically drawn and purified.
The north/south corridor on the west side of the courtyard fully engages the courtyard as well with floor to ceiling glass. The public-access offices along the corridor are therefore provided with natural light. One north/south corridor running up the east side of the courtyard has its east wall washed in natural light by a slender clerestory as well. In afternoon hours, the lowering sun casts beams of colored light from stained glass down each of the small alcoves which open to the courtyard, blending with the accented floor colours and reflecting off the ceiling to enliven the space and differentiate each therapy destination on the corridor for the children. The gymnasium is naturally lit with high level windows facing northeast. Appropriate access to natural light was another important driver the design.
Along with the strategic placement of glazing to maximize the use of natural light, control of excessive heat gain is provided by overhangs on the clerestory and projecting aluminum sun shades, primarily on south and west facades.
This building is grounded to its northern context by natural materials which include: limestone (masonry, polished sills and tile), clay brick, glue-laminated timbers, cedar, maple, and slate.
Professionalism and Delight
It is important that One Kids Place serve and appeal to parents and their children aged from birth to 18 years. In contrast to many environments created for kids, this is not one of sensory overload, or applied child-like decoration. With quality materials and spatial character, the building creates a matrix of professionalism which provides parents with confidence in the services provided. Within this matrix however are playful elements, color, light and textures which animate and express the energy of youth, both inside and out. In this environment, therapists can provide an appropriate range of stimuli and activity for children with varying needs and abilities.
The building is also animated by features such as the 10 foot long saltwater aquarium in the lobby to amuse, entertain and calm children waiting for therapy. Colorful contoured resin panels are suspended above the main waiting area and artwork of local artists and craftspeople animate the public spaces. A collaborative triptych celebrating the culture of wood and spirit of discovery hang in the main corridor. As well as expressing the forest, and first nation iconography, these panels feature an array of inset woodland creatures which are ceramic or carved from antler. Discovering these treasures is a delight for the children.
Sustainable Design Features
The design includes a broad range of sustainable design features:
• Superior insulation
• Structural Wood (partial)
• Radiant heat with high efficiency condensing boilers
• High efficient lighting (with bi-level dimming)
• Superior day-lighting strategies
• Automated day-light harvesting
• On-site storm water retention and treatment
• Low VOC paints
• Low VOC flooring and adhesives
• Formaldehyde-free millwork and furniture
• Some recycled material (Paperstone® table tops for example)
• Living Green Wall (active bio-filtration)