The Coulee

 

Date: 2014-15

Status: Design Competition

Location: Medicine Hat, Canada

Program: Office, Housing, Retail, Parking, Public Plaza

Size: 14000m2

Team: Jessie Andjelic, Philip Vandermey, Marina Tolj, Justin Loucks, Chris Herman, Chris Yap, Kinan Hewitt

Collaborators: Manasc Isaac Architects

 

 

The Coulee was the result of a two-stage competitive process, including an invited design competition at the second stage, which resulted from a self-initiated downtown revitalization study undertaken in 2013 (see Thinking Hat).

In order to respond to the complex program (the office spaces also include expansion areas for the City), the surrounding landscape, the manufacturing history as well as various building scales, the form of The Coulee zigzags across the site and steps back in both directions to create bowl-like conditions that relate to and frame the surroundings. Vertical step-backs also reduce the potential for a linear wall to the south of the street in this cold weather climate.

A narrow building depth maximizes light and views while also virtually eliminating central double-loaded corridors. Each office employee and building resident enjoy double orientations to the South (sunshine and views over downtown) and North (views to the Riverside Veteran’s Memorial Park, City Hall and the South Saskatchewan River). Through-building retail units also enjoy access from both directions, and a central passage connects to a new crossing that reconnects downtown with the river. Office spaces are arranged for maximum flexibility over time, with three efficiently sized compartments of approximately 1000m2.

The housing benefits from reduced building depths towards the top. Most units have two levels, with private sleeping areas arranged over living areas. Each floor has a generous outdoor terrace.

 

Medicine Hat has beautiful surrounding natural and artificial landscapes

 

Referencing the topographical coulee landscape, the building provides two terrace bowls that face to the sun and to the river.

 

The facade is imagined as an array of houses along the upper levels, extensive office glazing to take advantage of the view in the middle storeys, and large storefront display windows at grade.

 

 

The building provides an urban edge on Riverside Veterans' Memorial Park.

 

 

The site for the building is on the North edge of downtown, at a transition between low-scale historical buildings and greenspace. It is also located adjacent to a prominent park, the South Saskatchewan River, and a line of institutional buildings including City Hall, Municipal and Provincial Courts and the Public Library.

The Central Passage and Ampitheater act as a hub of activity.

 

 

Grand Cafe recessed into the end of the block

The Passage connects the south and north sides of the building.

 

 

Offices enjoy expansive views towards the park and river to the north.

Large, spatial residential terraces with a view towards the river valley

 

A series of interconnected public spaces lead pedestrians from the south-west corner of the site, through The Passage, to the north-east zone of the site.