Pre-Painted Steel Cladding Integral to the North
The new Aquatic Centre in Iqaluit, Nunavut, has revitalized the community and helped to teach another generation of residents how to swim. Joshua Armstrong, architect and Iqaluit office manager for Stantec Architecture in Iqaluit, had his work cut out for him when he was hired to spearhead the project in 2013. The Iqaluit Aquatic Centre was completed in December 2016.
“It’s an aquatic centre first with community centre elements and
a fitness facility. It’s Phase 1 of a long-term plan to increase
recreational facilities in the community,” he explains. “Since
it opened, the response has been overwhelmingly positive.
The Centre gets a lot of use.”
Stantec’s client for the job, the City of Iqaluit, had previously
leased a small pool from a developer, but this pool had been
closed for four or five years.
“There is a generation of young children who didn’t have a
community pool, that didn’t know how to swim – this facility
is changing that in a hurry” says Armstrong. “We got a strong
sense from the client that the new Centre needed to be evocative of the landscape and the culture of the community. They wanted it to be a unique facility, there aren’t many of these types of buildings in the Arctic.”
In addition to the usual challenges of building in such a
harsh climate, Armstrong and his team faced another hurdle
as well: the proposed site for the new Centre was polluted.
“The site has a history, there used to be a nursing station
where this building sits now and their generator had leaked
oil which, with other polluting sources, left a brownfield site.
Foundations design was critical to addressing permafrost
conditions and remediating the site.” he says. “We lifted the
building up and supported it on steel columns that were pinned to bedrock, leaving a space between the building and the ground to allow for snow passage, to protect the melting of permafrost and to de-pollute the site in a passive way.”
Most of the building was constructed of steel, which is
prized for its durability and low-maintenance in the north.
“On the exterior we used a lot of GalvalumeTM coated steel
cladding. It’s a low-maintenance material proven to be quite
good in the north. We have a harsh climate, and the sun and wind are very hard on materials,” says Armstrong, adding that they had to take special care with the treatment of the steel. “aquatic centres have high humidity and chemically treated water, which has a corrosive effect on steel if the steel isn’t addressed properly.”
Load-bearing steel studs, rebar, steel decking, with both prepainted and unpainted AZM150 Galvalume® steel wall cladding and roofing were also used in the construction. “The most unique thing about the pool is that it’s not in the ground. It’s on the second floor,” Armstrong says.
“The pool design is minimalist to evoke the ice forms – we have ice and water here and the two are always intermingling.” Since the community of 7,000 people has three official languages, the team developed a graphic language to use throughout the building to eliminate the need for a lot of text on signage.
“In addition to the exterior, the colour is inside the building.
We wanted people to enter a whole new environment when
they walked inside,” says Armstrong. “It speaks to the unique
place that it’s in.”