FREsh AIR

Building in a Productive Landscape

Completed at: The University of Waterloo, Landscape Studio, 2B, 2014

Southern Ontario's Milton Quarry had reached its yield point, leaving behind scars of environmental damage. The site desperately needed rehabilitation. Fresh Air proposes a recreation area for Milton, Ontario which is relaxing and extremely beneficial to human well-being. Here, health benefits are literally absorbed by the lungs and distributed through the body by inhaling the air produced on site over a varying duration of time. While some more intensive procedures are made by altering the air quality artificially, for example, oxygen therapy, most of the specific air quality on site is produced by conifer trees which release the greatest amount phytoncides (essential wood oils) into the air. By spending at least ten hours in the forest, visitors naturally participate in improving their health. 

In order to effectively capitalize on the phytoncide potent air, the architecture on site is designed to bring the air to the visitors at all times, even when people chose to stay indoors. The easiest way to breathe in the air is to simply walk through one of the many trails where the trees are densely arranged in rows. However, people need places to linger and stay, thus these spaces are manifested as programmatic voids. Inside the voids, the ground plane is lifted to the height of the tree canopy where phytoncides are most abundant. This ensures that breezes carry phytoncides to people when they are static. In some cases, funnels are used to capitalize on the Venturi effect which allows the forest air to travel into interior spaces. The visitors center is the largest of the structures on site and was thus developed as an example of the potentials of the Venturi funnel concept.