Creating a uniquely Wetaskiwin building
During the initial conceptualization of the facility, our team was drawn to the unique landscape of the region. We wanted to celebrate and reflect on two major ideas from our observations of the geography; one, the prevailing prairie winds and the movement of the grasslands, and second, the overlapping hills of the parkland topography. This led the team to pursue the notion of intersecting lines and masses. By further embedding the building deeper in the landscape and providing berms that build up to the edges of the facility, the building truly begins to disappear into the local topography and become a natural extension of it.
The building is divided into three major areas based on their primary functionality: emergency shelter, dining, and housing. The emergency shelter space provides all the required programming to ensure a safe space for the houseless population on a daily basis, including safe intake at the building entrance, personal storage space for overnight stays, washrooms, and beds. The dining area is the heart of the building and provides an open space for those staying to have a warm meal away from the elements. Two different transitional housing options are provided as well, depending on the users, including shared dormitory rooms and independent studio suites.
With accessibility at the forefront of the design team's mind, the project embraces the sloping roofs to accommodate barrier-free circulation throughout the multi-storey building. There are no stairs and no elevators.
A major focus of the design team’s explorations focused on the interior finishes for the project as there was a great need to balance the aesthetics of comfort and safety with robustness. Any suggested materials and finishes needed to be functional, durable and cost-conscious. Additionally, materials should provide adequate acoustics, improve indoor air quality, enhance health and wellness for visitors and tenants, and consider the environmental impacts of material manufacturing to minimize greenhouse gas emissions, waste, toxins, and natural resource usage.