Design

Approximately 9,400 square feet of purpose-built space over three levels were designed and constructed to a globally recognized sustainability standard called the Living Building Challenge.

The development and design of the Biosphere Centre will continue to include community feedback. Through this process, the design details may change, while the zoning, massing, and building use will likely remain the same as currently represented in the conceptual design. The current design was developed in consultation with the Crab Dock Neighbourhood, and changes have been made to reduce building size and massing, retain the residential character of the building on Olsen Road and protect the privacy of the adjacent properties. 

Visitor Centre

The Centre will offer a Visitor Centre with interactive displays and exhibition materials to educate visitors, locals, youth, students and organizations about the UNESCO Biosphere Region.

It will provide a place for students and the public to access research, archives, and library materials. These precious historical items will be safeguarded in appropriate archival storage for research, education and learning.

Elders' Room

An Elders' Room will provide a focused space to invite and honour dialogue on issues such as Nuu-chah-nulth language preservation, conservation and community needs. 

The room could be used for 'Storytelling with Elders' and 'Elders' Language Nest' which would develop meaningful ways for Elders to teach and have ‘Vital conversations" of sharing knowledge and culture.

Teaching Kitchen / Meeting Space

A teaching kitchen enables people to offer training for the region's food service industry, and allows the sharing of traditional harvest knowledge and food preservation techniques, facilitating the food security of the region and maximizing the abundant food resources of the region. The kitchen will use circular economy principles and be a shared resource for the community's programming, training and teaching needs.

Community Workspaces

A community knowledge hub will consist of both private workspaces and open-plan areas, where the CBT team will collaborate and co-locate with partner organizations, local researchers and visiting academics to support the vital community and ecosystem health efforts. The building also includes a large community meeting space for presentations and gatherings.

Indoor & Outdoor Workspaces

Both indoor and covered outdoor teaching space will be available for community dialogue, and educational youth and culture programs, alongside interpretive programs for visitors to learn about the local history and global significance of the Biosphere Region.

Residential Units & Parking

Two modest residential units are included. The units will provide long-term, year-round rental opportunities, for CBT staff and the local community.

Nine parking stalls and a bicycle rack with a minimum of 6 stands will be provided on-site as well as a recharging station for electric vehicles. 

Community Collaboration

The current design was developed in consultation with the Crab Dock Neighbourhood, and changes have been made to reduce building size and massing, retain the residential character of the building on Olsen Road and protect the privacy of the adjacent properties.

Engagement sessions were held with the CBT Board and stakeholders. These included both in-person and online ‘open house’ sessions. MOTIV Architects developed multiple design options using insight and information from stakeholders and analysis of the program and site conditions. 

The Biosphere Centre Development Committee comprises diverse community volunteers who bring feedback to the project development through discussion and workgroups.

All community members are encouraged to share feedback with the development team by reaching out to Rebecca Hurwitz.

Floor Plans

The ground floor provides ample parking for CBT & community uses and includes access to two residential units facing Olsen Road. 

The second-floor entrance is level with Campbell Street grade and includes the Elders' Room, CBT office and meeting space, and community archives. 

The third floor is home to a community meeting space and teaching kitchen. A west-facing, exterior, covered courtyard and south facing sun-deck provide much needed weather-protected outdoor gathering space.

Massing

A series of simple, deliberate moves responding to constraints and opportunities of the site helped to guide the architectural design for the Biosphere Centre. 

Some of these moves included:

  • Lifting the building to create space for parking.
  • Orienting residences toward Olsen Road.
  • Accessing residences at grade.
  • Stepping building away from both streets.
  • Emphasizing roof form - referencing Nuu-chah-nulth Longhouse typology.
  • Creating outdoor opportunities for gathering.
  • Providing weather protection.

Materials

The building will utilize wood as its primary structural material, a material steeped in the culture of west coast architecture going back centuries. This wood structure will be expressed throughout the interior of the building to create warmth in contrast to the rugged exterior.

The exterior cladding materials also draw inspiration from everyday materials that have become emblematic of Tofino and the west coast of British Columbia. This includes cedar shakes/shingles and vertical wood cladding.

Social Procurement

Every purchase has a social, economic, cultural, and environmental impact. Social procurement is about using our existing purchasing to capture those impacts to achieve the overarching institutional, governmental, or individual goals that help shape inclusive, vibrant and healthy communities. This project has the potential for various social value outcomes, utilizing local trades and craftspeople to provide the project with skilled and unskilled labour, art, materials and services.

Through social procurement implementation and storytelling, there is an opportunity not just for immediate impact, but for a ripple effect throughout the community and region.