INNISFIL WATER TREATMENT LOW LIFT BUILDING

INDUSTRIAL

LOCATION: Innisfil, Ontario

ARCHITECT: LINEVISION Architects in joint venture with Ainley Group Engineers

DESIGN LEADERSHIP: Michael Poitras, Principal-in-Charge

COMPETITION: Open Design Competition – Second Place

CLIENT: Town of Innisfil

STATISTICS:

  • No. of storeys: 1
  • Floor area: 3,606 ft2 (335 m2)

MATERIALS:

  • Chrome finished vertical metal siding
  • Glass block
  • Round acrylic skylights
  • Outdoor landscaping

GENERAL PROGRAM:

  • Expansion of existing low lift facility
  • Process tank
  • High level pumps
  • Water boosters
  • Screens
  • Blowers
  • Electrical room
  • Hypochlorite room

COST: $20 million

Water filtration buildings, whose shoreline sites are determined by the pragmatics of their water purifying duties, are typically expressed as fortified, impenetrable boxes, void of any human interaction. At best, attempts are made to hide the buildings within their communities by cladding them in materials extracted from the neighbourhood, and capping them with imitation roofs. Comparatively, during the 18th century, especially in England, utilitarian buildings of various industrial functions began to be treated as “follies”, charged with new architectural interest and purpose. (Folly (dictionary definition): A whimsical or extravagant structure built to serve as a conversation piece or lend interest to a view.)

 With this in mind, we began to look closely at how the expansion to the Innisfil water treatment low lift building could participate in its site at Innisfil Beach Park, while simultaneously expressing its water purification function, in the spirit of an 18th century folly.

The low lift building sits right at the vehicular entrance to Innisfil Beach Park, at the intersection of Innisfil Beach Road and Lakelands Avenue. Strategically, by expanding the low lift building to the south, we have created a long western façade, whose length will now participate in guiding visitors to the brick clad park entrance pavilion. The new southern façade will also perform a similar function, guiding pedestrians along an existing gravel pathway, while lending interest to the view of Lake Simcoe, to the east.

Abstracted from water itself, the building’s façade is expressive of both its inherent “clear/silver”colour and varying texture of “bubbles”. When combined, the two concepts result in façades which have arching glass block windows concentrated at the building’s corners, allowing obscured views of the building’s inner workings, all framed within a reflective chrome palate. These reflective façades make even greater connections to the setting, by reflecting the trees and lakefront onto the building, quietly reminding us of our fundamental relationship with clean water. As such, the building’s architectural language is nothing less than a “conversation piece”, true to its 18th century origins, while functioning as an architectural “guide” within its waterfront park setting.