The exterior look of our new Regional Visitor Centre has attracted a great deal of attention. The cedar cladding has given the building an authentic Cowichan Valley barn appearance. The intricately carved front door, made from different kinds of wood, stops people in their tracks.
The Cowichan Regional Visitor Centre was developed as a joint project between the Duncan-Cowichan Chamber of Commerce and the BC Forest Discovery Centre. The building has a large, open space for exhibitions and events, a covered “front porch”, and a small park and gathering area to the south — all designed to showcase local arts and culture. The west wall of the building presents a strong image along the highway, acting as a giant billboard announcing to passers-by that the facility is open and that they are welcome. The positioning of the building gives the parking lot a sense of arrival, rather than simply feeling like another pull-out from the highway. The form of the visitor centre was driven in part by the planning requirements of the site but also by a shared desire to reflect the rich agricultural heritage of the valley.
The building has been constructed using a prefabricated wood frame with structural insulated panel walls. Roof framing is a combination of glue-laminated beams and “gang-nail” trusses with oriented strand board sheathing. Wall cladding is a reverse-batten, rough-sawn cedar siding with a waterborne oil solid colour stain. Wood was chosen for this project because of its importance to the local economy, the wood building tradition of the region and the availability of skilled labour in the community.