2009 Awards of Excellence: Burnside Gorge

additional photo credit: Bob Matheson

Extensive Institutional


Built on a former landfill site, this hillside community centre is now home to one of Canada’s largest public accessible green roofs.

Project: Burnside Gorge Community Centre, Victoria, British Columbia
Award Recipient: Sharp & Diamond Landscape Architecture Inc., Vancouver, British Columbia
Architect: Garyali Architect Inc.
Integrated Green Building Consultants: Advicas Group Consultants Inc.


Civil Engineer: Westbrook Consulting Ltd.
Structural Engineer: Peterson Galloway Ltd.Mechanical Engineer: Hirschfield Williams Timmins
General Contractor: Aral ConstructionLandscape Contractor: Paradise Cityscapes

Integrated into the hillside along Cecelia Creek Ravine in Victoria, British Columbia, the Burnside Gorge Community Centre blends architecture and landscape into the adjacent ecological and social fabric of Victoria’s northwestern neighbourhood. With 90 percent of the site functioning as greenspace, it has become a community focal point that features one of Western Canada’s largest publicly accessible green roofs.
The new facility fulfills the needs of a diverse community (inner city youth, children, adults, and seniors) acting as a neighbourhood house and recreation centre. Connecting to Cecelia Creek Park and Galloping Goose Trail, the site is part of a larger green corridor. The landscape architect worked closely with the building architect to fit the building into the steep slope leading down to the ravine and transform this former industrial landfill site into a community highlight.
The Centre’s green roof is its unique and defining attribute. Street-level landscape flows over the architecture below, allowing for an 11,475-square-foot, three to six inch deep, extensive green roof that is publicly accessible at all times.
additional photo credit: Bob Matheson
Responding to structural limitations of the building, the landscape architect formulated a lightweight, growing medium for the proposed native plants. The team also developed a custom green façade detail, using diagonal cables, to shade the windows on the upper portion of the building. Rainwater collected from the roof and the permeable parking lot is channeled through a stormwater infiltrator before recharging Cecelia Creek.
The Burnside Gorge Community Centre earned high marks from our judges for its water-preservation policies and community focus, but the aspects of the project that most impressed the judges were aesthetics and accessibility. Beautifully composed, it is also a roof that it is possible to walk out onto at all times of the day. Socially and ecologically, the architecture and landscape at Burnside Gorge Community Centre combine to quietly illustrate a profound underpinning of sustainability – good design is good citizenship.

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