CIBINEL Architects' new home for Brandon's firefighters
Brandon's new 30,000 sq ft Fire and Emergency Services facility is divided into two formal components, a firehall wing and an administrative wing. Severing the two components through the formal gesture of a pivot appropriately orients the firehall wing with the street and aligns the administrative wing with the creek to the northwest. The separation allows daylight to penetrate the buildings on all sides, while a single-loaded corridor animates the façade with human movement and activity.
A minimally detailed, non-programmed transparent volume situated between the two wings acts as a dramatic entry into both sections of the facility, mediating the two programs with a thin hovering glulam bridge. The public entry engages and welcomes the community with a generous landscaped public ‘plaza' enclosed by the museum to the north, and the apparatus floor to the south. The museum features an 80-year-old Bickle fire truck poised as if ready for its next call, while the apparatus floor showcases the department's current emergency fleet. Extensive glazing surrounding the plaza highlights the rich history of the fire department in the City, juxtaposing old and new in a state of the art facility.
A dramatic hose tower stands proud in the landscape and acts as an urban marker for people entering the City along the neighbouring street. Through a series of walls and fire separations, the tower also acts as a training facility and exit stair connecting the apparatus floor with the dorms on the second level. The solution integrates functionality seamlessly into the aesthetics, giving appropriate expression to the demands of the facility while creating an effective civic presence.
Impervious dark brick cladding descends the tower and wraps around the building's horizontal walking surfaces, allowing for a natural runoff of water to be reabsorbed by the site's indigenous grasses. This facility validates the idea that a primarily utilitarian program, which often times results in a prefabricated solution, can become a sophisticated architectural project that contributes to its surrounding community and landscape while still fulfilling its demanding functional requirements on a modest budget.