Humber Arboretum Centre for Urban Ecology Creating a learning environment

Humber Arboretum Centre for Urban Ecology

Humber College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning, City of Toronto, Toronto and Region Conservation Authority
Toronto, ON

The Centre for Urban Ecology is jointly owned by the City of Toronto, the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority and Humber College. Designed by Prime Consultant THA in collaboration with architectsAlliance, it is one of the first buildings in Toronto to receive a LEED Gold certification and has won numerous awards for design excellence.

It provides environmental education to primary, secondary, college and university students, and promotes the advancement of environmental technology in service of the preservation of the natural world.

The architectural goal of the project was to create an assertive, modern and green building to demonstrate sustainable development and energy conservation, using materials and forms that would communicate architectural and engineering ideas for future institutional, commercial and residential designs.

The plan of the building is organized according to the students’ arrival and the sequence of the teaching program. The students arrive at a point distant from the building and walk through the landscape with glimpses of the building appearing along the path; the path rises to the front door of the building, and once inside, you look out from a high point on the site to where you have been and to the activities that will be part of the outdoor experience.

The two-storey building is wrapped by a structural landscape earth-wall on three sides. There is an upper orientation classroom and a lower working project room that breaks out into the outdoor classroom. The interior is spare and tightly organized and the materials used in the building’s construction are deliberately transparent to allow the natural environment outside the building to dominate.