In small towns and remote communities throughout British Columbia, local residents are using sustainably harvested BC wood to build arts, cultural and community centres—places where people can play, gather and access services.
Many communities founded on forestry are returning to their roots by constructing landmark buildings and community amenities with local wood products and using local expertise, labour and manufacturers.
On the East Coast of central Vancouver Island, École au-cœur-de-l’île is a modern school by day and a hub for the local Francophone community at night. Sustainably harvested wood is used in McFarland Marceau Architects’ plan throughout the building. Interior spaces use exposed glue-laminated timber (glulam) beams and mass timber panels to form unique reading alcove and multi-purpose spaces. The nearly 3,000-square-metre roof is made of timber. Reclaimed Douglas-fir from the site’s previous building was used to create a 7.5-metre glazing wall, with more salvage wood used as benches and display cabinets.
Drawing on Vancouver Island’s forestry origins, the Cowichan Lake Sports Arena’s revitalization was built in part with 15 truckloads of wood products donated by local logging companies and distributors. The heavy-timber hybrid structure, located west of Duncan, features glulam beams with solid-wood decking and exterior tongue-and-groove western red cedar cladding. A dramatic entrance leads inside where birch-plywood millwork is featured. Designed by HDR | CEI Architecture Associates Inc., the arena includes warm viewing areas, multi-purpose rooms, and dressing rooms tailored to local curling and hockey teams.
Located in Hazelton, the Upper Skeena Recreation Centre is a practical and beautiful structure that was made possible through grassroots community involvement. Designed by Hemsworth Architecture, the centre replaces the community’s former arena. It has an NHL-sized ice rink with seating for 500, a gymnasium and areas for community programs. The exposed wood roof, supported by glulam beams and columns, is an economical framing solution. Simplified construction methods for the roof and exterior walls, which are made with plywood and dimension lumber, deliver added cost savings. The wood wall and roof panels were prefabricated by local workers and then dropped into place, speeding up construction.