Building for Context, Inspired by Canada's 150 year history

 

Dr. Seymour Conservatory, Orillia

 

In honour of our country’s 150th birthday, Bortolotto addresses the importance of understanding the cultural context prior to every design. “Building in context is one of the biggest accomplishments for any project that requires upfront research and thoughtful consideration,” says Tania Bortolotto, President of Bortolotto. “It is easy to draw inspiration from our Canadian heritage as the culture and geography are so diverse with so many stories to tell.”

Contributing to Canada’s future; A Selection of our Work:
 
 A-House, which is slated for construction this summer is located in the Lawrence Park neighbourhood of Toronto. Lawrence Park is one of the city’s first planned garden suburbs and is relatively secluded by Toronto standards with a few commercial businesses. In this respect, it is as close to feeling out of the city as you could be. The A-House is a deliberate attempt to reconnect with the zeitgeist of Lawrence Park, the distinct form, pulled to the forefront of the site, is reminiscent of the cottage country A frame brought into the city. A-House draws inspiration from these typologies that aided in defining Lawrence Park by contemporizing the use of traditional materials.
 
Bortolotto has been working with the Northeastern Catholic District School Board to design a $7 million expansion project to Pope Francis Catholic School consisting of 15,500 sf addition and retrofits to the existing 23,400 sf, 2 storey school. The current Child Care Centre will also undergo renovations to meet the demand of the growing population. It is important that the new design be complimentary to the setting of the neighbouring community with an emphasis on redefining Catholicism as well as acknowledging the large first nations population and the schools place in northern Ontario.
 
The school addition was inspired by the Aboriginal medicine wheel which emphasizes the view of the world in a circular fashion. The medicine wheel highlights the continuous relationship between the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual realties. The medicine wheel is divided into four quadrants, white to the north, yellow to the east, red to the south, and black to the west. The cycle of time revolves around the centre node, similarly to our inner spirit that is always lit.  The orientation of the school is tied into the teachings of the medicine wheel. The location of the new addition was selected to create a node where it will become the entrance and a central social hub. Here, sun light fills the space through medicine wheel coloured patterned glass.
 
OCAD University’s Rosalie Sharp Pavilion is currently under construction. The design aims to engage with the surrounding streetscape, specifically OCAD University’s Sharp Centre for Design by Will Alsop and the Art Gallery of Ontario by Frank Gehry. The proposed design will integrate OCAD’s brand and creative identity and establish the building as a gateway to the campus corridor that continues south along McCaul Street. 
 
The greatest challenge of the project is to engage the urban context, create a connection to the community and deal with the lack of visual clarity of the existing building. We have attempted a solution by introducing a new façade covering the existing building that creates an impact at an urban scale, that is attention grabbing and minimalist overall but contains smaller detailed moves within the facade.
 
The new façade intends to define the presence of OCAD as not only the gateway into the OCAD campus corridor, but the departure of the University as a technologically driven design institution.  The patterned façade is created by mapping data of Toronto’s artistic community. The selection of data includes Art Galleries, Museums, Design Studios and Art stores. This data is meant to describe the city as influenced spatially by the production of art. 
 
 The Dr. Seymour Conservatory is located in Couchiching Beach Park along the Lake Couchiching waterfront. The City of Orillia is proposing to rebuild the Dr. Seymour Conservatory to serve as an important public facility that will be used by the community year round.
 
The building is intended to be a major park feature drawing visitors of all ages with different interests. It will be both interactive and interpretive, combining the natural human and horticultural heritage of the site with discovery and learning. Within the facility there will be an interactive children’s discovery centre, an expansion of the existing greenhouse horticultural centre.
 
The goal of the project is to create an inspirational landmark building for Couchiching Beach Park. The orientation and massing of the building was carefully designed to address various pedestrian flows through the park, vistas to its contex, to create a high-profile point of entry to the park and vehicular traffic routes.
 
The orientation of the building is primarily based on the views to the lake and the former fishing wiers.
The curving roof is finished with white cedar shingles used on the adjacent park buildings. White cedar is indigenous to the area and in keeping with the historical context of the site as it was used 3000 years ago by the Mnijijaning to build the fishing weirs. White cedar is practical and naturally weatherproof, long lasting and is a sustainable resource. 
 
The Lake Couchiching site was once a very active fishing area for Mnijijaning First Nation. Remnants of a 4,500 year old wooden stake fishing weir system still lays at the bottom of the Atherley Narrows between Lake Simcoe and Lake Couchiching.
 
The Atherly narrows is a deeply rooted element in aboriginal culture. It was a gathering spot which many various aboriginal groups frequented. The Narrows are culturally a national historic site but overtime continues to decay due to  boating and other water activities.Samuel De Champlaign made reference to the success of the weirs in his memoirs stating how impressed  he was of the scale of the operation
 
Other selected projects on the boards include Lakehead University’s International Centre, Lakehead University’s Student Central, ROCK Mental Health Facility in Burlington, and TD Bank’s flagship branch in downtown Toronto.