The Morwick Groundwater Research Centre, designed by the architecture and engineering team at WalterFedy, has received Outstanding Project status for excellence in educational facility design in the Fall 2021 edition of LEARNING BY DESIGN.
The publication features eighty-one recently completed educational facilities across North America, vetted by a panel of six architects and facility professionals. The scoring criteria included several pillars crucial to learning environment excellence, including transparency, connectivity, safety, sustainability, great interiors, purposeful design, and sophistication.The judges offered the following comment:
“The Net Zero Carbon approach is commendable, something for which the community can be grateful for, which benefits society as a whole. Preserving the existing barn is tremendously beneficial to the environment, as are the other measures indicated. Exposed structure becomes a theme and a point of continuity between program spaces. The building is appropriately scaled and reflects the nature of the earth-science focus.”The Morwick Groundwater Research Centre was designed to generate global respect for groundwater. The expanded facility will allow the University of Guelph to increase and intensify their efforts to conduct leading-edge groundwater education, training, technology advancement, and research. The Centre will be an important multi-functional hub for groundwater-related activities, operating as a teaching and research facility for students and faculty, a venue for collaboration between the University and industry and investment partners, and a public education resource.
The design reflects the concept of vernacular architecture, leveraging local, natural materials to connect the building to the lands on which it is built. Low-profile, sloped rooves tie the addition into the pre-existing context creating a harmonious juxtaposition between the built and natural environment. Expansive windows throughout the facility invite natural light into the space and remind staff, students, and researchers of the direct link between their work and the world around them. Slate and neutral tones dominate the interior, with subtle rock and wood accents to bring the beauty of the outside into the working and learning environment.
The facility was designed to be Net Zero Carbon and uses no natural gas. Instead, the design leverages an air-sourced heat pump for heating and cooling. The solar panel will provide enough power for interior lighting demand with additional battery storage to store excess power. Insulation in the building surpasses Ontario Building Code requirements by 50%.