Glacier Discovery Walk

Wednesday 30 Mar 2011

Sturgess Architecture present their competition-winning design

At first glance this project is a departure from the typical architecture that exemplifies Sturgess Architecture, an award-winning collaborative for whom the street is the lifeline of the community.

Sturgess Architecture is a firm whose focus within the profession has been on creating rich adjacencies, increased densities and vibrant neighbourhoods within the urban fabric. However, the Glacier Discovery Walk is in fact a distillation of the very core of heroic ambitions of Sturgess Architecture’s work.

Responding to the rugged context of the site, the project brings people into a vivid joint experience. Instead of creating a stage, which in the city can be easily filled with the narrative of passersby, here the story itself is carefully orchestrated through thoughtful tectonics. At the Glacier Discovery Walk, within the grandeur of Banff National Park, the immediate natural condition is vast and awe-inspiring. But this is not the only context from which the project draws. The historical and ecological narrative of Canada’s National Parks requires innovation in form, material and a sustainable approach to building.

Weathering steel is used on all exposed non-horizontal surfaces to match the colouration of adjacent rock, while providing a maintenance and VOC-free material. The steel forms fractures in response to the mountains’ forces. It is a protrusion in the landscape; one that admits its artifice while being shaped by the forces of its surroundings. The broken geometry of the viewing platform is further accented by the eccentric suspended cable structure supporting the glass walkway.

As a design build project, together with Brewster Travel Canada, Read Jones Christopherson Consulting Engineers, and PCL Construction, an innovative and collaborative design process has been implemented creating an opportunity for finding synergetic design solutions. Issues of sustainability, logistics, fiscal restraint and environmental stewardship have been addressed in a comprehensive and holistic approach. The Glacier Discovery Walk is expected to open in the summer of 2012.

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