UTSC INSTRUCTIONAL CENTRE
- LOCATION: TORONTO, CA
- CLIENT: UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO
- SIZE: 18.500 m² BUILDING AND ROOF TERRACE
- YEAR: 2019-2023
- STATUS: CONSTRUCTION DOCUMENT PHASE
- ARCHITECTS: CEBRA, ZAS
- LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT: LAND INC.
- ENGINEER: THORNTON TOMASETTI, THE MITCHELL PARTNERSHIP, HH ANGUS, MGM CONSULTING
The new student-centred UTSC Instructional Centre Phase 2 (IC-2), is centrally located on the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus (UTSC). The building is designed to form a cross-disciplinary learning landscape that extends outside of the classroom to naturally blend study, collaboration, and social areas with the surrounding campus.
The core idea is to design a learning environment that encourages students to actively take part in a continuous exchange with instructors and fellow students and to engage themselves in social relations. The building design supports activity-based, socially engaging and peer-to-peer learning through an interweaving arrangement of classrooms, student service facilities and open public spaces. The architecture contributes to promote learning as a shared, immersive experience instead of an individual endeavour, thereby increasing the learning outcome, fostering a sense of community, and reducing drop-outs due to isolation.
We have designed each of the 21 classrooms as a distinct setting for learning with a unique atmosphere to accommodate specific learning needs. Together, they form a compilation of diverse spatial qualities, which create a sensorially stimulating learning environment and provide faculty with a specialised set of tools for organizing different learning situations.
A three-dimensional printer’s tray
The design envisions the Instructional Centre’s ground floor as a 360° campus “living room” that merges with the surrounding public realm. Inspired by the Highland Creek ravine that weaves through the campus, the landscape is extended indoors as sloping mounds, embedded seating, and planting beds to create a natural terraced base. A carpet of open and engaging campus spaces that is rolled out beneath the building, extending upwards across the five stories as a coherent educational landscape to be inhabited by the campus community. From here, students have access to the 21 technology-enabled classrooms, ranging from a 500-seat auditorium to smaller 24-seat collaborative learning spaces. The complex arrangement of rooms and open spaces forms a three-dimensional composition, like the compartments of a 19th century printer’s tray.
The tray’s compartments also define the building exterior, where the facades mirror the diverse hierarchy of rooms and stimulating educational environments within. The facades exhibit the interior activities and make the diversity of learning situations visible from outside so that both the external and internal elevations become a backdrop of memorable atmospheres and diverse spatial settings for students. The mosaic of the printer’s tray communicates the vibrant life of the UTSC Instructional Centre, making it a central beacon for UTSC’s northern campus.