The most interesting projects lead their communities in new directions. The Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market in Halifax, Nova Scotia, is just such a project. Designed by the local firm Lydon Lynch Architects and completed in 2010, the building is a LEED Platinum showcase for innovative design and renewable energy technologies.
Program plays a major role in the project’s overall strategy. The Seaport Market was intended to help revitalize the city’s derelict waterfront and provide a new home for one of its oldest institutions. Founded in 1750, the Halifax Farmers’ Market is the oldest continuously operating market in North America. The market’s new home is a renovated warehouse designed to house multiple functions such as marketplace, community gathering space, performance space, and commercial office/studio space.
Because of the market’s public role, the building was meant to embody the community’s commitment to healthy and sustainable living. “We tried to make all the technology visible,” commented Keith Tufts, the project’s lead architect, “We thought it had a huge potential for public education.”
One of the most important design strategies employed on the project was reusing the warehouse’s steel frame. The large open-span structure lent itself very well to the new program. By simply working with the existing frame, the architects were able to recoup a significant cost savings for the client. They were also able to eliminate a huge amount of carbon emissions that would have come from the manufacture and transportation of new structural steel.
Providing abundant natural light was another primary challenge for the project. The original warehouse was dark and cavernous. To help transform the space, the architects added four large solar lanterns along the western facade. The glass towers flood the space with daylight and also provide passive solar heating during winter months.
The project boasts one of the largest green roofs in North America. Ten species of sedum grow on the building’s eastern roof. The plants do very well in the moist marine environment and create a colorful backdrop for the rooftop observation deck.
The building’s owners were adamant that the facility should produce as much of its own energy as possible. The project includes several onsite renewable energy technologies including solar thermal, micro wind turbines, and geothermal wells.
Utilizing locally sourced materials was also a main priority. Wood for the project comes from both FSC Certified forests, and local trees that were blown down by Hurricane Juan. Overall, 30% of the building’s materials were sourced locally.
Above all, the project was intended to make a positive impact upon the Halifax community. On a busy day, the market attracts up to 12,000 visitors. Since moving to the new facility, the market has enjoyed a 300% increase in revenue. Some of the visitors are undeniably coming for the selection of local produce, meat, and fish, but some may very well be coming to enjoy one of the most beautiful and inviting spaces in the city.