Niagara College Welland Campus Student Commons - Canada

The colours of Ontario

The Niagara College Welland Campus Student Commons is the result of an upgrade of a 1970s era building. The new 36,000 square metre campus features classrooms, teamwork and collaborative spaces, a cafeteria area, a student activity room and offices.
Donatella Bollani
Scott Norsworthy
Gow Hastings Architects
Stone Tile International | Centura Tile
Year of completion

The new Niagara College Welland Campus Student Commons establishes a welcoming heart within the sprawling, decentralized campus, upgrading the 1970s era complex of tight spaces, classrooms and dark, narrow corridors. The north-facing entrance overlooking a plaza with oak seating gives these spaces a new sense of place, while the original white metallic surface of the frontage accommodates the school sign. The aim of the project – carried out by a team consisting of architects Valerie Gow, Philip Hastings, Jim Burkitt and Hugo Martins – was to immediately open the building to natural light and external views, creating pleasant, friendly places where students can study, collaborate and socialise. The interior design blends with the meticulously crafted interior wayfinding, an abacus of large graphic motifs that double up as decorative elements. The coloured walls and the blue polka dot patterns, which also appear in the windows on the façade of the main building, are trademark features of Gow Hastings Architects, who have designed other educational buildings in Canada characterised by well-calibrated spaces using light and colour. The system of large LED lamps is also designed to identify the transit areas, the central collaborative spaces and the cafeteria, all of which face onto the extensive grounds.
Valerie Gow, co-founder of the firm, comments: “Furnishings and materials were selected based on their sustainable quality and playfulness: circular lights embedded in the ceiling resemble floating bubbles while visually leading users towards the central zone; tinted green glass partitions define the seating areas; a mirrored clerestory reflects light and expands the experience of the space; and sculptural blue felt panels inlaid with ultra-thin LED lights absorb sound and demarcate the large-scale pivot doors leading to the student activity room. Built-in Corian and oak tables, counters and benches, and lightweight chairs and tables offer durable and easy-to-maintain seating options.
The finishing materials were also selected with careful consideration of their environmental impact. The porcelain tiles are Greenguard Gold certified and meet Green Building Council requirements within the LEED protocol.
All floors in the corridors and common areas were tiled with Stone Project ceramic surfaces from Ergon (Emilgroup), chosen in the colours White and Grey and a 60×120 cm size. This stone-effect porcelain was selected for its sustainability, variety of finishes and natural colours. The collection creates an immediate connection with the landscape surrounding the campus in the province of Ontario, an area famous for its nature reserves, mountains and waterfalls. White-body double-fired tiles in a 20×50.2 cm size from the D2P (Design 2 Positive) series, part of Gambini Tile on Time’s D_Project collection, were used on some of the walls and on the surfaces bearing the Food Court restaurant signage.
In addition to skilful use of natural light, Gow Hastings Architects also equipped the building with an IoT-controlled LED lighting system that uses presence sensors to reduce electricity consumption. The kitchen features an innovative green roof that mitigates the effects of heat, along with low-emissivity glass and VOC-free paint
The environmentally conscious design featured the use of variable speed air handling units and ceiling fans to reduce the consumption of the heating and cooling system.

Ergon + Gambini Tile on Time
FLOOR: Ergon
porcelain tile
Stone Project
Grey Falda, White Falda
30x60, 60x60, 60x120 cm

WALL: Gambini Tile on Time
white body single firing tile
D2P Design 2 Positive
Blanc satin 20×50,2 cm
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