Located at the main entrance to the Trent University’s iconic Symons Campus, the new Student Centre is a concise exploration of connections: connecting the building with the bucolic adjacent Otonabee River landscape; connecting new construction to the historical precedent of the surrounding original campus architecture—designed by Canadian modern architectural master Ron Thom; and, most importantly, connecting the students with one another in a dynamic and inspiring setting.
Directly adjacent to the University’s iconic Bata Library on the campus’ waterfront, the building creates important new links from campus entry points to the riverside and surrounding landscape. Program areas include a variety of informal student lounges, collaboration and study spaces, student club spaces, new offices for the Trent Student Association, a multi-purpose event space, and a range of classroom/lecture spaces.
The three storey building is organized around the Forum, which rises through the full 3-storey height of the structure and from which one can view all of the activities of the building. The centrality and visibility of the forum is key to the design, acting as a hub for social activities as well as for intuitively navigating and accessing all of the facility’s programs. Students follow the larger urban flow of circulation into this space and up through the building via a circulation spine composed of stairs, benches, lounges, and a variety of adjoining study areas.
The flexibility of the forum space will also allow it to host concerts, job fairs, and other events central to Trent student life. Featuring a solid ground-level façade on the road side, the building opens to panoramic views south to the river, and to the larger campus and surrounding landscape from the upper storeys. A true indoor-outdoor space, interior gathering spaces open to exterior patios and terraces.
From the river side, the legibility of the building’s floor plates subtly references the geometry of the adjacent Bata library in a more elongated, organic language. The precast panels’ exterior finish was created from an image of the distinctive rough aggregate concrete used on the Bata Library and throughout the original campus, enhanced by dynamic folds in the panel forms.
Visible exterior wood roof structure—comprised of 200mm deep douglas fir glulam beams—ties both to the surrounding wooded environment as well as detailing in the original university buildings. Together, the materiality, detailing and strong horizontal expression of floor levels serve to communicate with and offer a lighter, respectful contemporary counterpoint to the materiality and formal logic of the Ron Thom campus.
A pragmatic sustainable strategy underpins the design of the building, centred on passive approaches. The building’s carefully considered orientation and solid-to-void relationships take advantage of heat gain in winter from the south and east but deep canopies ensure key areas are shaded from summer sun. Natural ventilation is provided through the Centre’s large 3-storey forum. The curtain wall glazing achieves high-performance through use of Low-E, tinted and fritted glazing units that are filled with argon.
Other measures include energy reclamation on air handling units, LED lighting and low flow plumbing fixtures. Underpinning a desire for social sustainability and to continue Trent’s history as a socially progressive institution, the building meets University’s stringent accessibility guidelines, and incorporates important spaces such as gender free washrooms and a breastfeeding area. Organized around a central student forum, the building uniquely integrates both student centre programs and teaching and learning facilities.
The forum houses a variety of lounge and study spaces as well as clearly visible connections to the building’s other amenities and program areas. Key spaces include a café, a lecture hall / theatre, both tiered and flat classrooms, Student Association offices, student clubs spaces, an Entrepreneurship and Innovation Centre, Career Centre, hotelling workspaces, and a multi-purpose rentable event space. The flexibility of the forum space will also allow it to host concerts, job fairs, and other events central to Trent student life.
- Location: Peterborough, Canada
- Architect: Teeple Architects
- Project Team: Stephen Teeple, Chris Radigan, Darryl Biedron, Eric Boelling, Aiden Mitchelmore, Julie Jira, Polly Auyeung, Tanya Cazzin
- Structural Engineer: LEA Consulting Ltd
- Mechanical Engineer: Crossey Engineering Ltd
- Electrical Engineer: Crossey Engineering Ltd
- IT/Telecom/Security: Crossey Engineering Ltd
- Sustainability/LEED Consultant: Zon Engineering Inc.
- Landscape Architecture: Basterfield & Associates In.
- Civil Engineer: D.M. Wills Associates Ltd
- Acoustic Design Consultant: Novus Environmental Inc
- Food Services: Kaizen Foodservice Planning & Design Inc
- Accessibility: DesignABLE Environments Inc
- Building Code Consultant: David Hine Engineering
- Main contractor: Aquicon Construction
- Client: Trent University
- Built area: 34,000 ft2 (3,200 m2)
- Cost: $13,000,000 CAD
- Completion date: September 2017
- Photographs: Andrew Latreille, Courtesy of Teeple Architects
Article by Marco Rinaldi