Designing in Canada’s Arctic: How Teeple and Cibinel Architects were able to maximize natural daylight and insulation in Nunavut Arctic College

Designing education facilities in Canada’s Arctic North takes commitment and accommodation to unique constraints including temperature, logistics and limited natural daylight. Nunavut Arctic College’s Nunatta Campus expansion is an educational and cultural center that was designed by Teeple Architects and Cibinel Architecture Ltd. completed in November 2018.

During the design process, the project architects had many obstacles to overcome including spatial interconnectivity, logistical considerations, and creating “a balance achieved between the competing desires of insulating the building as much as possible against the Arctic cold while simultaneously bringing in natural light and taking advantage of the beautiful views to the harbor and the landscape beyond.”i Teeple and Cinibel Architects worked to find solutions to these three challenges with the aid of material manufacturers of this project, including Advanced Glazings Ltd. Solera was considered as a possible solution to help the architect's overcome the daylighting and thermal performance challenges. AGL provided support to the architectural team to help them identify the best Solera product and VLT (Visual Light Transmittance) and insulation options to address the daylighting and thermal performance challenges of this project.

Canada’s ArcticLogistically this project had very specific requirements that had to be followed to ensure the construction of the college stayed on schedule. Teeple noted, “As Iqaluit, Nunavut is in a remote community located on an island in the Arctic, all construction materials are either shipped or flown in.”ii Due to geographical limits, the shipping season is limited to 3 times a year in the months between June and October. Because of this limit, many of the materials used in the construction of this project were stored outdoors or in a heated warehouse to ensure the project stayed on schedule.

Technical design of the college expansion needed a translucent glazing that would not only provide high thermal performance for this remote arctic location, but also diffuse natural daylight deep into the school for students to have access to natural daylight during their time spent indoors. By choosing AGL’s Solera R-18, Teeple and Cinibel Architects were able to achieve both insulation and natural daylight. The combination of Solera R-18 and vision glass provided a combination of natural daylight and view for a functional and beautiful space. Building occupants would have access to natural daylight and stunning arctic views to help connect students, workers and the community to foster student engagement while breaking down potential social barriers.

Teeple and Cinibel Architects choose “a combination of Solera R-18 insulated glazing and clear triple glazed panels is used on the south façade and clerestory windows to direct equal amounts of light in all directions, creating a diffused and full spectrum of light.”iii

Solera R-18, with its insulation and light diffusing properties was a building block to help them get it right. Teeple and Cinibel architects created a beautiful, energy efficient and naturally daylighted building where both students and community can study and connect.

AGL was pleased to assist in the early work and to be part of the successful completion of this project. We congratulate the entire design team on creating such a beautiful building despite the inherit challenges.