The new P’egp’ig’lha Community Centre combines the functions of community hall, band offices and health centre for the Ti’t’q’et First Nation, whose traditional territory occupies the benchlands above the Fraser River near the town of Lillooet. The 1,860 square metre facility responds to its site and the demands of the microclimate in much the same way that traditional native dwellings did. In a region of cold winters and hot summers, and in a valley subject to persistent winds, the structure is partially sunk into the ground and sheltered by earth berms. Exterior louvres catch the wind and distribute it via underground ducts that supply low velocity air to the displacement ventilation system. In a climate where heating and cooling requirements are balanced over the year, a geo-exchange system supplies cold water to the radiant floor slabs in summer and hot water in winter. The architectural program is organized around a central atrium that is accessed via a flight of stairs from the entrance lobby. One side of the atrium is defined by the curving glass wall of the community hall, the other by service rooms on the lower level and by the band offices on the balcony above. Behind the offices lies the single storey health centre, its shallow shed roof maintaining a low profile that keeps the building in scale with its surroundings. The P’egp’ig’lha Community Centre project engaged the entire community from the young to the old. Although the reserve is home to fewer than 400 people, the centre has been designed to host regular gatherings that involve all six nations of the St’at’imc tribal group, as well as other larger events.
The domed community hall is the most striking feature of this all-wood building. The structure comprises vertical glulam posts and shallow glulam arches set at 3.6 metre centres. Between the posts, the above-grade portions of the exterior walls are infilled with CLT (cross laminated timber) panels that are self-finished, and also provide the required lateral resistance to the structure. The glulam arches are bridged by 2x10 joists set at 300mm centres, which in turn support plywood roof sheathing exposed on the underside. The exterior of the community hall is clad with vertical boards of random, rough-sawn cedar finished in a charcoal colour. The irregular surface and deep shadows give the base of the building a feeling of solidity, alluding to the patterns of exposed rock in the surrounding hills. The remainder of the building is framed with conventional 2x6 lumber, with wood I-joists used for the suspended floor and roof. The health centre and lobby are clad in horizontal tongue and groove cedar siding, and the soffits of the roof overhangs and entrance canopy are finished in tongue and groove pine. Internally, the building features birch millwork, chosen for the similarity of its colour to the pine used outside. The lobby features decorative screens made by weaving 13mm x 300mm cedar boards in and out of vertical cedar poles. The pattern recalls the exceptional basketwork which is the most notable of the Ti’t’q’et’s traditional crafts.