Clayton Community Centre

  • Location

    Surrey, BC

Clayton Community Centre is North America’s first Passive House certified community centre, and the largest non-residential certified project in Canada.

Designed around people, the facility combines four aspects of the City of Surrey’s community services —recreation, library, arts and parks— in a seamlessly integrated facility. The social fabric of the culturally diverse and rapidly growing Clayton Heights neighbourhood led to a design that focuses on providing gathering spaces to support community connections. The unique mix of spaces, imagined and developed in close engagement with the community, combine arts and culture programming including performing and visual arts spaces with recreational activities including a gymnasium and fitness centre, and a branch library. These services are supported by shared social spaces, as well spaces for community-led programming, including a community kitchen and garden, a workshop, a café, and child-minding, preschool, and childcare spaces.

Previously operating through different funding and staffing models, the four key services now work collaboratively in the new centre under a new governance structure, facilitated as part of the design process.

Site and Symbiosis

Clayton Community Centre situates itself as an extension of the forest on the site and draws on these qualities for its design. The roof and building envelope mimic the tree canopy to unify the four traditionally siloed civic services underneath, with a leaf-like heavy timber structure that spans across the interior. The interlocking members of its pinwheel components metaphorically and structurally gains strength by all components being interconnected.

Beneath the canopy is a space for unexpected discovery and learning, that physically responds and evolves with changing activities. The Centre is also a leader in social inclusivity, offering fully universal washrooms, universal change rooms, and best practices in wayfinding and signage. A leader in accessible and inclusive design, the facility is pursuing the Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility Gold Certification.

Building Performance

Pursuing Passive House was a huge ambition, it is, according to Passive House Canada “the most rigorous energy-based standard in the design and construction industry”. As a relatively new standard in North America, most existing Passive House projects are residential, so designing a 76,000 sq ft. community centre to these standards was charting new territory—especially without compromising on design excellence or operational efficiency.

To achieve Passive House Certification, maximizing energy efficiency was critical.

The building’s compact form benefits both the programmatic aspects of the building and Passive House targets by minimizing the surface area of the floor, walls, and roof relative to the volume of the building that needs to be heated and cooled. Spaces on the site were placed according to both their programmatic usage and natural light requirements, respecting their corresponding internal heat gains and required solar heat gain. Careful design of shading was necessary, while being balanced carefully against other key drivers for spatial arrangement and glazing.

All of these needs influenced the orientation of the building and the location of the program elements within.

Design Process