Why wood is the natural choice for HCMA Architecture + Design
Darryl Condon and his firm, HCMA Architecture + Design, have embraced and often pioneered the use of wood and mass timber in community, civic, and recreational aquatic facilities throughout British Columbia and Canada. Condon shares why wood is often an integral material in the buildings they design, and how they’ve pushed the boundaries of what is possible with wood.
Q: Why have you made community centres and recreation facilities a significant focus for your firm?
A: There are many aspects of responsibility that come with the privilege of designing community buildings. These facilities play a vital role in civic life and ultimately in helping to shape strong, just, and cohesive communities. At HCMA, we strive to challenge the traditional boundaries of architectural practice and become catalysts for positive change. Good architecture, I believe, builds community in many ways, but central to this is providing the context for positive social engagement. Whether it be a library, a school, an ice arena, or a swimming pool, they accommodate functions—yet these activities can be seen as a means to a greater end: building community.
Q: What role does wood, as a building material, play in the facilities you design?
A: As a firm we have been exploring the many ways that we can achieve better social outcomes, both through our work and the tools and methodologies we use in the process. For us, the use of wood in community facilities is directly linked to this. The environmental benefits of wood are increasingly well understood, but it is important to recognize the broader social sustainability benefits as well. We are fortunate to have many municipal clients that embrace this mandate and we have enjoyed their support as we have explored the nature and capacity of wood construction. As British Columbians, it makes sense that we are drawn to building with wood and we’ve really embraced pushing the envelope with what you can do with wood, such as with Grandview Heights Aquatic Centre.
An increasing number of health-care facilities are incorporating wood to provide patients and visitors with a warm, natural aesthetic, and a calm, stress-reducing connection to nature.
Research begins to show the biophilic benefits of wood, which suggests that humans possess an innate tendency to seek connections with nature. Study results show students who spent time in rooms featuring natural wood exhibited lower stress reactivity. During all three periods of the study, stress, as measured by sympathetic nervous system activation, was measurably lower on average in the rooms featuring wood than in the non-wood office.
The bold, striking use of wood throughout the space — uncommon in such health-care settings— softens the hospital’s institutional feel and creates a calm, stress-reducing connection to nature, while standing up to weather, wear and tear, and rigorous maintenance. As the research on biophilic benefits of wood continues to grow, one of B.C.’s busiest hospitals leads the way in offering patients a comforting, supportive, and healing environment.
For architect and timber advocate Peter Busby, wood is one of nature’s greatest innovations
B.C. forest products are a predominant structural and finishing material for a wide range of transit infrastructure throughout the province, including airports, bus exchanges and SkyTrain stations. Learn more about the use of wood in transportation projects.
Learn about the latest wood design and construction trends within these four building applications while earning Architectural Institute of British Columbia (AIBC) recognized continuing learning units towards professional development.
With its wide-ranging use of different wood species, the Prince George Airport demonstrates how a high-traffic building can benefit from the resilience, versatility, durability, and thermal characteristics of wood. These were important considerations for this northern city, situated at the confluence of the Fraser and Nechako Rivers, which is prone to cold, harsh winters.
An effective insulator with a warm aesthetic, wood is particularly well suited to the demanding atmospheres of swimming pools — as well as ice rinks in arenas. Wood tolerates high levels of humidity, offers acoustic and thermal benefits, and absorbs and releases water vapour without compromising its structural integrity. Indoor pool design has evolved to include ample use of natural light and bold, innovative uses of B.C. wood from sustainably managed forests.
Interview with Darryl Condon, Managing Principal of HCMA Architecture + Design, who has embraced and often pioneered the use of wood and mass timber in community, civic, and recreational aquatic facilities throughout British Columbia and Canada. He shares why wood is often an integral material in the buildings they design, and how they’ve pushed the boundaries of what is possible with wood.
Located in John Hendry Park in east Vancouver, this ice rink was the first phase in the replacement of an aging community centre facility. The rink served as a practice facility for competitors who participated in the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games and opened for public use after the Games.