Student Award of Excellence – Field Station for Entomological Studies

Salt Spring Island, British Columbia

Jamey Richards, University of Toronto

The aim of this project on Salt Spring Island is to reassess the relationship between landscape and built form; interest in form and its spatial organization stems from the development and qualities of the exoskeleton of the insect. The project examines how these exoskeletons provide structure, determine and influence program, influence visual and physical interpretation and how they mediate with their natural surroundings.

The project comprises three major program elements: laboratory, residence, and archive. The buildings are situated in close proximity to the exisiting pedestrian path in order to minimize intrusion to the remaining site, and are positioned at different altitudes to take advantage of site-specific abiotic and biotic factors as well as to provide visual advantages. Each of the programs is connected via a series of catwalks and pedestrian paths at grade.

The residence is nestled in the existing tree-line to provide privacy and protection from the natural elements, while the laboratory is located in the open field to take full advantage of west-east prevailing ocean winds and natural daylighting. The archive is situated beyond the tree-line in order to provide maximum protection from abiotic factors such as natural light, wind, and rain that may damage the insect collections. Each building is supported by a rammed-earth foundation system.

Monteyne: While the structure of bugs may not constitute a complete architectural thesis, this project succeeds by transferring observations on insects into environmentally sensitive design principles regarding siting, massing, and tectonic manipulation. These principles are applied with gusto to produce a nest of highly expressive creature buildings.

Yarinsky: The thesis is clearly stated and the form of the project is compelling. The design would be strengthened by a more detailed explanation of the site strategy, including diagrams showing how the forms shape or respond to the site’s physical attributes–such as daylight, view, topography, winds, etc. The cover photo-montage is the only image that provides a sense of the tactile, perceptual aspects of the project–the success of the project is that it leaves us wanting to know more about what it feels like to experience it from within.