A LEED certified metropolitan railway in Canada
Douglas A. Salin
Chris McCarthy & Allen Parker - SNC Lavalin
Pacific Stone Tiles
The Canada Line metropolitan railway inaugurated on 17 August 2009 connects downtown Vancouver with the international airport (YVR) and the city of Richmond. There are a total of sixteen stations along the line: four in Richmond, three in Sea Island and nine in Vancouver. It carries passengers along a 19-kilometre route from the centre (Vancouver’s Waterfront Station) to Vancouver International Airport in just 25 minutes.
Rather than architecture for its own sake, the entire project displays profound attention to the environment, creating a result that the architects have defined as « more urban than architectural ».
With its rational layout and clearly defined routes, the project displays a rare blend of infrastructure and architecture based on a close and constructive dialogue between the architects and clients.
In December 2009, the Canada Line received a Gold Award for infrastructures from the Canada Council for Public-Private Partnerships.
Lightweight structures respond visually to the metaphor of speed of movement via the gentle curves of the roofs and the false ceilings accentuated by the effects of transparency of the infill walls that allow natural light to flood in.
Although each station is unique, they are all united by a common design approach. They can be divided into segments that the architects define as « families » with shared design characteristics determined by the context.
Each station along the Canada Line is specifically designed to integrate with the density of the surrounding neighbourhood. But at the same time they each stand out for their aesthetics, functionality and durability in order to handle a high volume of traffic.
The futuristic and essential clear design is evidenced by the many variations of the carefully selected palette of colours from white through to beige and blue and the use of natural materials that evoke the sky and reflect the criteria of sustainability that underpin the project.
The Canada Line will help reduce urban congestion and pollution.
The environmentally-friendly approach adopted for the sixteen stations complies with the LEED sustainability protocol. The ventilation and lighting systems both focus on energy saving. For the exteriors 400 trees of local species were planted to allow the project to blend into the landscape. Even the chosen materials – concrete, steel, glass and ceramic – are in harmony with the green ethic.
The Granitogres and Pietre Native porcelain floor and wall tiles, by Casalgrande Padana, delivered high technical and performance characteristics along with rigorously selected colours, « chosen in soft neutral tones with measured variations », according to the statement of the jury which awarded the project third place in the Public and service building category of the Grand Prix Casalgrande Padana awards in 2009.
These ceramic surfaces also make for uniform lighting of the surfaces, emphasising visibility, visual comfort, glare reduction and a clear demarcation of the edge of the pavement.
The lighting project, with hidden or otherwise unobtrusive fixtures, has followed design criteria based on quality and savings in terms of light distribution and the reflectance values of the finishes, increasing the sensation of safety amongst metro users.