Back to the future
Gow Hastings Architects
Nelz Barnett at Rainbow Builders
Mind & Action is the motto of Ryerson University in Canada, where «mind» stands for ideas, spirit, thought and intelligence, put into practice through «action». It is a well-chosen slogan to sum up the goals of one of Canada’s most respected polytechnic institutions, where more than 43,000 students attend the various faculties located on the Toronto campus.
Ryerson, which has always devoted special attention to the quality of the architecture used to accommodate its educational and research activities, recently appointed the practice Gow Hastings Architects to redesign the areas housing the administrative, guidance and student relation departments while creating an efficient and representative central hub.
Founded in 2002 by partners Valerie Gow and Philip Hastings, Gow Hastings Architects is an acclaimed Toronto-based practice which works on different scales in the most diverse fields of architecture. In particular, it is well known for its innovative approach to educational building design and boasts a portfolio of more than 250 completed projects for higher educational institutions and universities, winning an Institutional Honorable Mention in 2014 for another project at Ryerson.
This unique blend of experience and expertise made Gow Hastings Architects the ideal choice for the Ryerson Service Hub project.
The necessary spaces were created by radically restructuring an area of the university previously used for a cafeteria in a brutalist building originally constructed in the 1970s.
There were two main challenges: on the one hand to modernise spaces that were not only underused but also had a dreary, outdated look; on the other to create an articulated whole that would be capable of offering an adequate response in terms of functionality, rationality of use and accessibility to the various services offered, particularly given the high levels of attendance, while at the same time serving as a representative interface for the university’s innovative image.
The result is a bright, airy space. Inside, the public and private reception, guidance, administration and waiting areas are set out according to a clear distribution strategy, along with an equipped but informal breakfast and dining space designed to encourage socialisation. Everything is fluidly coordinated through a series of aids to support activities, including writing and consultation desks, flexible seating areas and customised furnishing accessories integrating a series of technology interfaces.
The aesthetic is dominated by the white surfaces, the large backlit panels and the graphic design with its large letters and bright colours, all underscored by a meticulous lighting design.
The floor coverings play a major compositional role. The porcelain panel tiling, consisting of areas in two different colours, acts as a subliminal marker that intuitively highlights the different functional areas of the Service Hub. The Architecture series panels produced by Casalgrande Padana were chosen in the catalogue colours Cool Grey and Light Grey. They were installed with a slightly diagonal layout with respect to the shorter side of the rooms, helping to expand the sense of space and create an impression of dynamism.
The project’s distinctive qualities won it the honourable mention in the Institutional Category of the Ceramics of Italy Tile Competition Award 2017.
Casalgrande Padana, Granitogres line, Architecture series
Cool Grey, Light Grey
Water absorpion (ISO 10545-3): ≤ 0,1%
Chemical resistance (ISO 10545-13): conforme
Resistance to deep abrasion (ISO 10545-6): conforme
Stain resistance (ISO 10545-14): conforme
Frost resistance (ISO 10545-12): conforme
Modulus of rupture and breaking strength (ISO 10545-4): 50÷60 N/mm2
Slip resistance (DIN 51130): R9
Thermal shock resistance (ISO 10545-9): conforme
Linear thermal expansion (ISO 10545-8): conforme