LaSalle College Maker Lab

PS02 asks you to design a Maker Lab for LaSalle College. Previously, the Art Institute of Vancouver, LaSalle College has programs including Film and Television, Video Game Programming, Digital Film and Video, Game Art and Design, Graphic Design, Interior Design, Fashion and Culinary Arts. The Maker Lab building is intended to provide general making facilities for all the disciplines as well as specific classroom space, a culinary lab space and general support spaces as well as design a building that is state of the art in terms of sustainability measures.


While we see many industries around the world reeling from the disruptive effect of technology, the construction industry remains intransigent both in materials and methods. While change for change’s sake is a fool’s errand, in construction there may be a clear benefit to innovation – namely the environment. The building sector is responsible for the use of 47.6% of the energy produced in the US (48% in Canada) and 44.6 % of the total CO2 emissions. Building construction is 5.9% of this total. Innovation in design and construction could therefore provide a significant contribution  to reducing GHG emissions both within Canada but also internationally.

Wood is a renewable resource and absorbs carbon as it is grown. As such it is one of the most sustainable building materials that can be used. It is also light to transport, can be used as both structure and finish, and is easily machinable, lending itself to energy efficient construction as well as facilitating a large variety of architectural forms and expressions. This studio will focus on where material, structure and processes of building come together with a focus on the use of wood. With new technology comes new opportunities and the question for this studio is how new technologies in digital design and robotic fabrication of wood can contribute to make building less environmentally costly.


Timber structures have taken many forms throughout the ages and across cultures. Each timber typology reflects the technology, environment and cultural values of their times. Our current culture is developing new technology in wood – a series of different forms of engineered wood products. These use smaller pieces of wood and assemble them into a higher performance wood product. These new engineered wood products can use new growth wood and sustainably grown forests to create a product that is renewable, stores carbon and is sustainable.

Timber structures play a large role in the architecture to which they belong – they simultaneously reflect light and provide mood, express the technology of the time, and provide supporting structure. Use of timber is thus compelling in architecture but the basic form of the structure has not changed significantly over time: many of the timber structures take the form of a post and beam of some description in a hierarchical manner. This studio challenges not only the heirarchy of post and beam but the singularity of its use. Wood can perform as structure, finish, insulation and furniture but a hierarchical use of wood limits its use to only structural and requires other elements to take on other roles. Perhaps new conceptions of wood may take on other roles simultaneously rather than in isolation.


The workshop allowed you to experiment and build with robotic fabrication, Prelude asked you to experiment with engineered wood materials, PS1 asked you to experiment with Grasshopper and PS2 will now integrate all the knowledge into a building with program, envelope and circulation.


The college would like a maker space to provide a facility for all the disciplines to share. It is to house the following:


Maker space housing the following: 




sq m

2 required



sq m

Wood shop


sq m

Metal shop


sq m

Food lab


sq m

Robot area


sq m

Laser cutters & 3D printers


sq m

Material storage area


sq m



sq m

2 required

Outdoor area


sq m

Siting considerations

The proposed location requires consideration of a number of issues related to siting:

  • Circulation – The location of the public transit and access to the facility from transit and from the other building
  • The issue of how to make a building in relation to the other buildings on the site
  • Sunlight and wind orientation


The project is already set up to use very sustainable materials. In addition, the nature of the robotic fabrication process we are using for the structure is such that the material process can also be set up to reduce waste. In addition to considering material waste, there are other considerations for the design. These include:

Natural lighting and heat energy from sun

Energy conservation

Sustainable education




Further discussion of factors can be found in the competition guidelines: