The Sunset Community Center in South Vancouver with its soaring rooftop draws more than just the attention of passersby. The vibrant space is incredibly popular with the surrounding multi-cultural community, who come to the center for recreation and other activities. Designed by Bing Thom Architects, the LEED Gold certified project incorporates both active and passive daylighting techniques as well as a strong focus on durable and low-maintenance materials. Serving as a link between nature and the surrounding communities, the transparent building has spectacular views to the south.
Sunset Community Center is set in an ethnically diverse neighborhood and next to the fields, greenhouses and planting beds of the adjacent Vancouver Park Board site. Inside the center houses a preschool, gymnasium, exercise rooms and a host of other community activities. The undulating roof and soaring eaves help achieve a sense of play about the space, engaging members to explore and connect with nature. Three main elements define the building: the concrete tilt-up walls, the curvilinear roof and the curtain wall. Basic, low-maintenance materials like concrete were utilized along with construction techniques for big box stores to lower the overall cost of the building.
Window design and placement is a major feature of the passive and active daylighting scheme. Three different types of glass: clear, fitted in a striped pattern, and opaque white, were used in a strong horizontal pattern to control solar heat gain, suit the function of the interior space and to control views. Daylighting, occupancy and CO2 sensors manage energy usage as well as the indoor climate. A low albedo roof coating reflects the sun’s energy further reducing the need for cooling.
The surrounding landscape was designed to maximize storm water infiltration, including the use of “soft surface” parking areas and other extensive soft landscaping. Besides using concrete, local materials like Hemlock wood sourced in British Columbia were used to form the interior panels and warm the interior. After the project was completed in 2007, membership increased by 40% as a testament to how popular the center has become.
Images ©Nic Lehoux