Designing a space to serve multiple functions can be a challenge. British Columbia design studio Public had to learn about a whole new range of uses for Xthum, at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, where the Kwantlen, Semiahmoo, Tsawwassen and Katzie Nations needed a space for celebrating, feasting, storytelling, counselling, advising, studying, and relaxing. How do you fit that all in?
The architects explain:
Our process started with a search for solutions to the project's biggest constraint: the program was too big for the 25'x30' space provided. Our solution anchored flexible zones of occupation around a fixed kitchen and fireplace element. Defining these zones is a ceiling/wall-scape that obscures references to the original former classroom.
Cultural differences are reflected in the design:
We felt a contemporary construction and fabrication methodology would resonate with students who are nomadic by nature: studying at all hours, eating when convenient rather than in traditional meal times, and technology enabled.
That sounds pretty much like any university student, but OK....
Xthum is a Hul'qumi'num word meaning basket and drum. The project has received a Canadian Wood Council BC Wood Design Award, Wood Works 2010 and AIBC Innovation Award 2010, for showing another innovative and elegant way to use a renewable resource.