There is a strong relationship between the use of wood in the built environment and the effects on health outcomes. This is further enhanced when there are strong cultural ties to nature. This project drew upon the use of wood as a design concept and as a building material essential to the aboriginal life style.
Located on British Columbia's Sunshine Coast, this project involved the renovation of an existing district hospital, the expansion of the emergency department, new diagnostic imaging, ambulatory and special care facilities, as well as a new two-storey patient wing and entrance lobby. Constructed on land donated by the Shishalh First Nation, the design approach was inspired by Aboriginal traditions that integrate both the natural environment and the local community into the healing process. With its curved corners and muted natural tones, the exterior form and finishes of the building evoke the traditional bent-wood cedar boxes used by the Shishalh people for storing sacred objects - a metaphor well-suited for a building in which those in the local community are cared for.
It is in the lobby that wood features most prominently. Here, where a welcoming atmosphere and a sense of wellbeing are most important, the natural warmth of wood makes a vital contribution. The roof of the double height space is supported on Douglas-fir glue laminated (glulam) columns, mirroring the simple post and beam construction of coastal long-houses. A secondary structure of horizontal and vertical glulam members supports the glazed curtain wall, providing lateral resistance against wind loads.