The design for the new Vancouver Maritime Museum focuses on compressive and open spaces, mimicking the experience of walking along the decks and through the narrow passageways of the St. Roch, a retired RCMP vessel that successfully transited the Northwest Passage and now resides in the museum.
The majority of the areas accessible to the public are located on the west side of the building, while the back of house and administrative areas are on the east side. The public programming is designed so visitors flow fluidly along a single trajectory through the gallery space and down to the next level, without accidentally ending up in the back of house area.
Within the Museum are three open, light filled voids that span all three levels. These spaces are used to display artefacts, while being specifically designed to facilitate the stack effect. These voided spaces provide spacious gathering spots that often offer views beyond the walls of the building. Compressive spaces lead visitors through the museum, and occur in moments such as the main stair from the lobby to the top gallery level, as well as the tiered, climate controlled gallery spaces that encircle the St. Roch. These spaces are illuminated artificially in contrast to the naturally illuminated void spaces.
The siting of the museum engages visitors and the public by directly interacting with the seawall that circles the site. The main portion of the seawall sweeps visitors up to the main entrance, while the forked, more scenic route along the shoreline offers moments to stand below the sloped, outwardly projected glazing and experience the grandeur of the St. Roch. The public may also relax upon the patio outside of the canoe carving studio, or climb the stairs to the rooftop and enjoy the views of the artefacts inside the museum. The siting also engages visitors by offering views out to sea, providing context for the nautical artefacts on display. This space allows the public to engage with the site around the clock, regardless of whether the museum is open or closed.
This structure aims to achieve BC Energy Step Code Level 3 through an enclosure first approach. To achieve this, the wall, roof and foundation assemblies are designed to reach prescribed r-values, and do this by increasing the depth of rigid insulation.