Durham College Centre for Food

Education Winner

Project: Durham College Centre for Food | Whitby Canada

Firm: Gow Hastings Architects | Toronto Canada

Design Statement

The Centre for Food distinguishes itself in the highly competitive field of culinary education by taking advantage of its setting on a large suburban campus to narrate a story about the process of making a meal from “field to fork,” bringing together culinary, hospitality and horticulture programs in one location. Literally and figuratively merged with the cultivated landscape, a ramp rises from restored agricultural fields to the linear building’s second story. This and the surrounding cropland will be planted by the school’s horticulture program with vegetables and herbs that will be used in the culinary and hospitality programs, showcasing the school’s emphasis on local food, regionalism, sustainability and wellness. Inside, students and visitors can journey through the inner workings of the school and view all aspects of the facility including areas traditionally seen as back of house. The school showcases food distribution rooms, a 150-seat lecture theatre, faculty offices, classrooms and an array of hospitality, culinary and wine tasting labs that circle a central atrium. This atrium, with a two-story living wall, serves as a central meeting place and venue for events and celebrations. Interior windows provide glimpses into the labs, encouraging exploration and establishing a dynamic energy within the building. A soaring 70-seat restaurant features expansive views of the campus and gardens.

We selected Overlay Tile for all classrooms on the second story, installed in a pattern that runs parallel to exterior large span glazing. Becoming like an abstracted extension of the surrounding agricultural fields, the carpet becomes even more prominent during the harvest, with its matching natural colours of grey, silver, and gold. The room, with its clean walls and expansive views, is made all the more kinetic with this fluid and dynamic carpet tile that reflects the sustainable and fluctuating mandate of the school.

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