Not many buildings require a ballistics consultant, but it is a necessity when it comes to shooting ranges. Berlin's magma architecture completed their second one this year, for the 2015 Pan American and Parapan American Games (TO2015), following the shooting venues they designed for the 2012 Olympics in London. In Toronto, where they worked once again with Mott MacDonald, the architects designed a building that taps into regional considerations through form and materials, while also meeting the client's small budget. The architects at magma answered a few questions about the project.
What were the circumstances of receiving the commission for this project?
TO2015 issued an RFP for the design services in autumn 2013. We designed the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Shooting Venue, so we had in-depth knowledge on what was involved for the task and a prominent reference project. MottMacDonald were the lead consultants in the London team and a key team member had moved to Toronto to open a Canadian office for the company. We teamed up again for the TO2015 venue supported by a local architect.
Please provide an overview of the project.
The venue is an addition to the Toronto International Trap & Skeet Club in Cookstown, Ontario. It hosted the TO 2015 Pan American Games and is now being used by Canada’s top athletes as high performance training facility. It offers a fully enclosed 10m range and a combined outdoor 25 and 50 m range. Two 65 m long façades cover a fully enclosed 10 m shooting range on the top level forming a canopy for the firing line below. On the lower level they screen the combined 25 and 50 m outdoor field of play. To enable high frequency wheelchair accessibility expected for the Para Pan Am Games the ground floor is connected to the first floor by an outdoor ramp. The ranges cover a total area of 5.500 m².
What are the main ideas and inspirations influencing the design of the building?
The jagged upper edge of the outer perimeter wall is reminiscent of the Canadian national emblem: the maple leaf. Behind the form finding for the geometry of the façade lays a firm technical rationale: it was driven by geometrical investigation into all possible ballistic trajectories. Any excess planes not required to contain projectiles were cut away from the façade resulting in the dynamic and distinctive outer appearance of the building and a high efficiency.
Were there any significant challenges that arose during the project? If so, how did you respond to them?
We had to be inventive to meet the slim budget of the project whilst fulfilling all the requirements of the sport and visitor safety. The initial project budget was based on the assumption that no containing walls would be needed around the field of play and berms would suffice as enclosure. We proved that residential buildings in the vicinity of the site made it necessary to provide better enclosure of the field of play. The only way we could still meet the budget was to reduce the area of wall as much as possible, so we removed the triangles behind that were covered by the baffles. This could be done with any shooting range, but we were the first to realize this approach.
How does the building relate to contemporary architectural trends, be it sustainability, technology, etc.?
The façade is constructed from low-priced and widely used H2 utility poles with an Indian summer orange stain. By using regionally sourced materials and locally available construction skills we optimized the sustainability of the design. Martin Ostermann, co-founder of magma architecture, explains: "Our sustainability strategy was to shrink the building fabric to the minimum to reduce the need for material application."
How did you approach designing for Toronto, Ontario and how would you describe the process of working on the project there?
The national sport shooting facility is located in a forest near Toronto city. We were specifically interested in how we could relate to this natural landscape as it important for the experience of the sport. We created a building that does not contrast to natural forms such as modernist typologies would do. We were interested in an ambivalent identity of vernacular adaption and emblematic space.
How would you describe the architecture of Toronto, Ontario and how does the building relate to it?
There is no urban context - only a fantastic natural landscape surrounding the venue.
Email interview conducted by John Hill.
Ground floor plan
First floor plan