Windermere Fire Station #31: an exercise in sustainability and civics
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Windermere no.31: an exercise in sustainability and civics

Canada’s first net-zero energy fire station opens in Edmonton, innovating a service that protects a community


Windermere Fire Station #31: an exercise in sustainability and civics
By Redazione The Plan -

Powered by solar panels and designed by gh3 in Edmonton, Alberta, Windermere Fire Station #31 is Canada’s first net-zero energy fire station. The design challenge set by the local government was to integrate technology and high environmental performance into a structure powered entirely by renewable energy sources.

Windermere no.31 - gh3 © Raymond Chow, courtesy gh3


Windermere Fire Station #31: reinventing a symbol

Fire stations are highly functional buildings that are fully integrated into their local communities. And because they preside over the safety of those communities, they’ve taken on symbolic value. The site for this project was a blank canvas. The form of the new station underscores its role in the community along with the imperative for sustainable citizenship.

A traditional station typically has a sloping roof, large doors for trucks and tankers to pass through, a hose tower, a bell tower, and solid, heavy walls. Windermere doesn’t ignore these cues from the past, but reinvents the shape of the hose and bell towers through its gently curving roof, which is covered with photovoltaic panels. The building’s energy performance is enhanced by its south-facing orientation, which reduces energy requirements and makes better use of natural light. The structure has geothermal heating and cooling, and is well insulated. The fire station’s doors and windows are very high, significantly fewer in number than average, bi-folding, and can be quickly closed to minimize heat loss.y

Windermere no.31 - gh3 © Raymond Chow, courtesy gh3


Functionality, aesthetics, sustainability

The project sets out to combine functional needs with aesthetics. It also features a bioswale rainwater management system, comprising small temporary reservoirs that retain water and slowly drain it into the aquifer. This system is integrated into the visitor parking lot, the entrances and exits, and the surrounding landscape.

Inside, the structure comprises a garage for firetrucks and accommodations for firefighters. The machinery area is painted white to magnify daylight and create a healthier working environment. The bedrooms, kitchen, living room, and offices are arranged around central changing rooms and a fitness area.

The sixth project by gh3 in Edmonton, Windermere Fire Station #31 is a symbol of a shared commitment to a more sustainable approach to the construction and management of public buildings and infrastructure.


>>> Discover two other projects in Canada: Montreal’s Théâtre de Verdure, designed by Lemay, and Flag House, designed by Studio MK27 in British Columbia


Location: Edmonton. Alberta, Canada
Completion: 2023
Client: City of Edmonton
Building Area: 1,532 m2
Architect: gh3 (Design Architect) and S2 Architecture (Prime Consultant)
Interior Design: gh3 and S2 Architecture
Landscape: gh3 and Urban Systems

Structures: RJC Engineers
Mechanical/Electrical: Smith and Andersen
Sustainability: Ecoammo

Photography by Raymond Chow, courtesy of gh3

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