General and Technical Report
The Nunavut Arctic College Nunatta Campus Expansion is a major expansion of a vital academic and cultural institution in Iqaluit, the capital of the Canadian territory of Nunavut. Nunavut Arctic College provides a wide variety of programs at the highest national standard with a core mission to support lifelong learning and protect and promote Inuit language and culture. The Nunatta Campus is a vital cultural hub and social centre for both the local Iqaluit community and the many students who have traveled far from their homes in remote communities throughout Nunavut to attend.
Conceptual Design & Spatial Organization
The internal organization of the building maximizes transparency and spatial interconnectivity to foster student engagement, breaking down potential social barriers. In this way, the project has sought to reflect northern values and self-consciously include elements that promote Inuit identity. In an animated and inclusive way, it links together all of the public functions of the new Nunavut Arctic College - Nunatta Campus. The first space one enters is a circular social space—the heart of the building. The circular geometry is intended to reflect the Inuit value of collaboration. It is a place where the Arctic College community will gather to learn, to eat, and to celebrate. Consideration was given to the traditional use of space for gathering and interaction. The Inuit Studies and Fur Design & Production facilities are centrally located and highly visible to visitors, animating the public space with the activity of learning and creation.
The design of the building is also rooted in the powerful Baffin Island landscape. The building emerges from the dark bedrock of the hill behind as an ambiguous natural form, in part shaped by the wind to minimize drifting and to provide substantial protection from the elements at the entrance. An angled wall on the south façade parallels the existing Inuksuk on site—respecting its place.
The design sets forth a strong emphasis on innovative form combined with a warm interior spatial presence. A balance is achieved between the competing desires of insulating the building as much as possible against the Arctic cold while simultaneously bringing in natural light and taking advantage of the beautiful views to the harbour and the landscape beyond. Glazed fibreglass curtain wall slivers are placed strategically on the exterior façade to further maximize the distribution of natural light to the perimeter program spaces. A combination of Solera insulated glazing and clear triple glazed panels is used on the south façade and clerestory windows to direct equal amounts of light in all directions, creating a diffused and full spectrum of light. A strategic cut through the roof generates a clerestory that scoops southern light deep into the heart of the building. Internally located classrooms have glass wall openings that allow this light to permeate to the interior of the building.
The cold dry climate permits the use of a standing seam metal roof with no gutters as well as a stained Western Red-Cedar vertically applied cladding which encloses the compact design. The exterior envelope insulation values range up to as high as R57 (RSI 10.0) and through the use of Cascadia fiberglass thermal spacers, the transfer of the harsh cold climate to the inside via thermal bridging is mitigated when fastening the exterior cladding elements to the remainder of the wall assembly.
The exposed glulam wood structure creates warmth to the spaces that are located on the second level and the double-height central space. Wood wall panels and a mountainous feature guardrail contribute to the idea of bringing elements of the natural environment to not only the exterior but to the interior of the project.
Construction sequencing was an important consideration in the design of the project. As Iqaluit, Nunavut is in a remote community located on an island in the Arctic, all construction materials are either shipped or flown in. Because the community is ice-bound for most of the year, the shipping season is limited to 3 times a year in the months between June and October. Materials are stored outdoors or in heated warehouses in order to allow for construction to continue throughout the year. The design of the building intentionally accommodated constraints due to cold weather, labor trade sequencing and material thermal limits.
Through digital BIM modeling of the architectural and structural design, the speed of completing the fabrication of the structural materials was expedited to accommodate the shipping schedule. Steel and Glulam models were built by the fabricators and coordinated with the architectural and structural design teams. Issues were resolved through Requests for Information rather than complete shop drawing reviews. The fabrication of structural members could then be advanced, packaged and shipped in time to make the barge in Montreal and shipped to Iqaluit for installation.
Teeple Architects was founded in 1989 in Toronto and has built a reputation for design leadership and technical excellence through a broad range of acclaimed institutional, commercial and residential projects. Its projects are conceptually and practically rooted in the unique aspirations of each client and have been recognized for responding creatively and effectively to the influences of site, climate, socio-cultural context, and budget. The firm’s work has been honoured with awards for design excellence and sustainability on the local, national and international levels, including six Governor General’s Medals for Architecture (Canada’s highest architectural honour) and a prestigious Holcim Award for sustainable innovation.