Britannia Beach, British Columbia
ArchitectTRB Architecture Inc.
Vancouver, British Columbia
Construction ManagerParkwood Construction Ltd
Burnaby, British Columbia
Copper FabricatorsKPS - Keith Panel Systems
North Vancouver, British Columbia
Design ArtistsFelt Studio
The Beaty Lundin Visitor Centre at the Britannia Mine Museum seeks to connect the past, present and future of mining to the visiting public. The project is a testament to the adaptive reuse of existing building stock; a respect for site heritage through innovative and modern insertions in the landscape; a case study for social sustainability that informs and educates at this legacy copper mine site.
The project intends to communicate the contribution of mining and minerals to our society; the material history of the surrounding community, and the practices of environmental renewal and sustainability through architecture and design. The design approach was to embrace the eclectic nature of the existing fabric while using modern forms and materials to reinforce the predominant organization of buildings to create a tightly knit cluster with small interstitial spaces and passageways between. The Beaty Lundin Visitor Centre is decidedly modern in contrast to the heritage buildings on site, yet the building contains detail, texture and grain that is compatible with the neighboring structures. Making connections to the time and specificity of place is integral to the success of this project. Connections are made through pre-existing site constants - water, wood, concrete and copper. Adopting this palette allowed dialogue between new and old building forms and materials.
The new Visitor Centre is clad in a combination of dark-stained horizontal wood cladding, and pre-patinated copper panels (75 percent recycled content) that have developed a very site-specific blue-green patina due to the microclimate around Britannia Beach. High humidity causes the panels to vary in color daily and creates a lively and active response specific to the Oceanside setting. These copper panels also offer an educational opportunity about the type of metal mined at Britannia and the importance of sustainable use of natural resources. The design team deliberately chose materials and forms that respond to the many elements on site. Wood is carried through the new Visitor Centre and overall site in different guises; the rectilinear pre-patinated copper panels of the Visitor Centre speak to the modernity of the historic Concentrator Building, a wonder of technology when originally built. The footprint of the new Visitor Centre was expanded to embrace the neighboring buildings and structures, creating intimate interstitial spaces that juxtapose old and new.
Architectural Category: Exotic or Unusual Applications