- Design Team: Bennett Oh, Karl Emil Koch, Ethan Schwartz, Nathanael Scheffler, Chi-un Lee, Sparsh Gandhi
- Clients: University of Waterloo
- Collaborators: University of Waterloo Plant Operations
- City: Waterloo
- Country: Canada
Text description provided by the architects. In recognition of the 60th anniversary of the University and the 150thanniversary of Canada’s confederation, the University of Waterloo hosted Celebration 2017, a legacy project that embodies the University of Waterloo’s reputation as a hub for innovation and celebrates Canada’s spirit of diversity and inclusion. Starting with conceptual pitch stage, every subsequent stage required more detailed and elaborated proposal than the previous. Each stage also involved meetings with experts and stakeholders relevant to the level of abstraction. The final deliberation process involved detailed budget analysis, lighting design, and construction phasing.
Our team was announced the final winner of the 3 stage competition. After almost a year of documentation and construction, the new student space was open for visitors accommodating about 10,000-12,000 visitors to the fall open house. The ambition of the project is to amplify and maximize potentials of the given location and transform it into a hub of exchange and events. Outdoor space has an inherent character of accessibility and extroversion, which allows for cross germination of ideas across disciplines. Our proposal is to saturate our site with urban furniture to create a new hub of activity and vitalize the southern half of the Waterloo campus.
“A study at M.I.T. found that 80 percent of the breakthrough innovations in products and services did not occur in training sessions or formal meetings. Rather, dynamic innovation was almost always the result of informal (even chance) encounters.”
(Forbes, February 2012)
Spatial Concept. We have envisioned the student space in the likeness of a computer chip. A computer chip is comprised of unique components specialized for individual tasks - all of which collectively forms a functional network.
“Computer chips facilitate complex assembly of radically different sources of information. Can a student space be like one?”
Similar to components of a computer chip, the plaza is filled with diverse furniture that provide varying degrees of interactions and tasks to be carried out. Students are imagined like electrons or bits of information - they circulate and exchange to form a complex network of greater intelligence.
Computer chip aesthetic embodies University of Waterloo’s excellence in high technology frontier and compliments the high-tech nature of existing buildings. Strict adherence to this concept also imbues unique identity as a student space.
“Digital Interlace is a complex network of interweaving microcosms and amenities; a matrix of crossroads passively encourages exchanges and innovations for generations to come.”