Aaniin Community Centre and Library
City of Markham
Size: 122,000 square feet
LEED: Gold target
The Aaniin Community Centre and Library combines an extensive multi-use program including a district library, aquatics centre, fitness area, multi-use rooms, double gym, and performance space in addition to various change room, food concession and support spaces. The central goal of the concept is to explore a framework that multiplies (or overlaps) the connections that exist between programs, people, and environments. This creates a stronger sense of community and place and greater interdependence with the surrounding natural systems.
The design is generated around a massive wood roof, which serves as a powerful unifying element in pulling the various programs and spaces together. Inspired by the community’s desire for a more open and inclusive community centre, the sense of connection is heightened by the overall transparency of the spaces, blurring the boundaries between programs. The expansiveness of the roof frames a series of new outdoor rooms around the building, including a reading garden, youth terrace and marketplace.
Internally, the building is centred around a generous open gathering space and stage, flanked by amphitheater seating, flexible storage areas and open mezzanines. Designed with specialized lighting, acoustics, and a sophisticated AV system, this open gathering space functions more akin to a public square. This enables the centre to host a variety of events, ranging from an intimate dance recital to a bustling cultural celebration or Bollywood movie night for 500 people.
This identification of the community’s values during the design phase ultimately informed the overall look and feel of the building. The myriad of rich colours and patterns read within the centre’s glazing, furniture and accent walls, as well as through its expressive wood roof; a physical embodiment of the centre’s name ‘aaniin’, an Ojibway word meaning ’welcome’.