Innovation Powered by the Sun: Manitou a bi Bii daziigae

Manitou a bi Bii daziigae connects students with education and industry professionals in ways that facilitate social innovation, enterprise and pioneering research. This video showcases the beauty and flexibility of this highly sustainable, light filled centre for innovation. 

The project charter required leading-edge sustainability, targeting LEED Gold certification and an EUI of 100 kWh/m2. This mandate was addressed through multiple measures modelled and tested in early project stages. 

The new building’s facade is made of Building Integrated Photovoltaic (BIPV) SolarLab panels that change colour depending on the angle of view and weather. This innovative concept – a Canadian first – conceals solar cells behind nano-coated glass panels. Their shape-shifting appearance animates the building conveying a sense of wonder that itself is an outward expression of the path of learning and innovation.

Modelled energy use is 112 kWh/m2/yr with offset from BIPV and rooftop PV. Initial modelling predicted that the combined façade and roof-top PV systems would provide approximately 20% of the overall energy requirements for the building. This estimate has been greatly exceeded in the first 6 months of operation, with the PV systems providing as much as 70%-80% of the daily building power requirement as measured through the BAS power metering. 

The design process began by identifying the essential experiences that inspire innovative thinking. As a guiding principle, all circulation routes are immersed in light—both as a metaphor for the enlightenment that stems from learning and as a transparent connector, linking disciplines within the college and beyond. The heart of Manitou a bi Bii daziigae is the agora. All programs overlook the agora; the sky-lit atrium above brings diffused light to the centre of the plan and as a four-storey space with circulation on all sides, it is a theatre-in-the-round with study spaces on the edges. 

The Centre’s new Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe) name translates to where creator sits (Manitou a bi) and brings light (Bii daziigae). Elders-in-Residence utilized their own traditional ceremonial protocols for the naming process. The building’s internal use of light, and its ability to transfer energy through light, were elements that inspired its name. 

joint venture architect: number TEN architectural group
video: no hands
photography: doublespace photography, Lindsay Reid