The sustainable lightness of a Canadian college
Tom Arban Photography
Gow Hastings Architects
Stone Tile International
Fifty years after its construction back in 1973, the austere A-Wing of Fleming College had become outdated in terms of both appearance and function, as well as being poorly suited to its role as the gateway to Peterborough’s Sutherland Campus. The College therefore decided to undertake a radical renovation project with the aim of creating a building with a contemporary look that would come up to the standards of 21st century learning and sustainability. Gow Hastings Architects, who were awarded the project, began by shedding the building’s dark brown aluminium envelope back to its steel frame and recladding it with alpolic aluminium panels. The College worked closely with the design team to choose the colours of the panels that transform the facade while suitably integrating it with the original brown campus buildings and a new Corten-clad neighbour. By arranging the similarly coloured panels at varying angles, they were able to capture natural light in different conditions, giving the illusion of a deeper colour palette. To break down the A-Wing’s solidity, the architects recrafted its form by applying some panels with «accordion folds» and adding perforated versions over the windows. To bring physical lightness into the building, Gow Hastings demarcated each entrance and key circulation space with a glass pavilion and added a transparent central hub that serves as a meeting space for socializing and informal learning. This node also includes a skylight that draws light downwards over multiple storeys.
To improve energy efficiency, the architects provided new roofing, energy efficient glazing, LED light fixtures with occupancy sensors and building components made from recycled materials. These include ceramic tiles made from at least 40% recycled material that meet the requirements of the LEED building classification system, the US Green Building Council and the EU Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS).
The interior colours reflect those of the exterior, including the white of the plastered walls, the bright yellow of the windows and the colour compositions of the large-format ceramic tiles used on both the floor and the walls. The project, which has won numerous awards including the Ceramics of Italy Tile Competition 2021 for the institutional buildings category, opted for the Discover stone-effect tile collection from Panaria Ceramica on the floors in an alternation of White and Origin grey. The I Colori collection from CE.SI Ceramica was instead used to create coloured vertical partitions by mixing White with Vanadio (deep yellow), Perla (grey), Torba (dark grey) and Quarzo (light grey). The same tiles were used in the bathrooms, Origin on the floors and I Colori on the walls, where the dazzling Bianco white dotted with colour compositions echoes the colourful geometries of the communal areas.