Water Education Centre

RC Harris Water Treatment Facility, Toronto, Ontario

Professor: Mason White
MArch 1 Winter Studio
Winter 2015, John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design

Students were asked to design a Water Education Centre, and later, to add a swimming facility to the program. From the project brief: "A Water Education Centre is desired at one of the most charged and iconic sites in Toronto: the R C Harris Water Treatment Plant. The new WEC is expected to be unique and of its own time, and yet respectful of the context in which it resides."

This project proposes a kind of filter building to mediate between the historical R C Harris Water Treatment Facility and the surrounding urban context. The proposed programs of a Water Education Centre and Recreational Swimming facilities are organized along a bar building that acts as a defining edge between the historic landscape and the ever-evolving city. The concept of the aqueduct is employed to introduce voids along the length of the building allowing the free flow of pedestrian traffic between the street and the water treatment facility grounds.

Treated water from the RC Harris Water Treatment Plant is moved from the plant to higher levels through a series of pumps and then allowed to flow downhill through the aqueduct system to reach its end user: you. Today this aqueduct system exists as a series of pipelines, buried underground, some as large as 2 meters in diameter. This aspect is the largest and most far-reaching part of the system but is completely hidden from our sight. Aqueducts date back to ancient times, most notably with the above ground version that moves water across its length at the top, while allowing people roads and activities to move through arch shaped passages below. This project proposes to use the concept of the aqueduct to move an educational experience about water across its length and allow the passage of people, activities, and views of the lake and the RC Harris facility through its width. The long narrow massing of the proposed project will be pierced by a series of large voids allowing views from Queen Street East to the site to be maintained. The framing of these views by the new structure makes reference to the carefully considered views evident throughout the existing site.

Above: Exterior perspective from south looking east

Above: Interior perspective of pool viewing area

Above: Photographs of 3D printed model

Above: Conceptual drawing
Copyright Genevieve DF Simms 2018