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Coastal Studio Fall Update: Working through challenges and looking to the future.

Posted by Anne Swan on November 9, 2016 in Architecture


Coastal Studio is winding down the fall season having completed two of three phases of their construction plan and preparing to enter the second and final design phase. As of November 1st, the remaining students are home in Halifax designing, detailing and profiling for what will be an exciting spring and summer in 2017.

Construction update


Load testing the 1:4 structure

The summer of 2016 resulted in completing the load testing, all gabion walls and a start on the landscaping. Apart from the uniqueness of the structure itself and the remote location, the fluctuation in the number of workers onsite and the comings and goings of key contributors is what makes this project so challenging.

See a birds eye video of the construction site.

Working through challenges

Educational design-build projects usually span 1 to 2 semesters, and often involve the same group of students from beginning to end. By contrast, the Parks Canada Gridshell project spans 6 semesters and has a complete change over of students for 3 of the total semesters. “We have had as few as 3 and as many as 44 students working on site at a time,” explains project manager Philippa Odida. The project relies on labor from student work terms, the Coastal Studio class, and Free Lab.


“The strength or weakness of the project lies in the students’ ability to properly document their processes and level of completion in a manner that allows the next group to easily take over”, explains Philippa.

This has been the main challenge and success of the fall semester: trying to consolidate the information and work of 23-44 students, who worked on this structure over the summer, so that the new project manager and 3 undergraduate students currently working on the project could proceed with minimal problems. So far Phillipa is impressed. “The current students are doing great. They got comfortable very quickly and are making big strides in the current phase. It is impressive!”

Moving Forward

Construction is slated to start up again in April 2017, with the project’s target completion as the end of the summer. This last construction phase will center on the build of the actual gridshell, as well as any furniture and the remainder of the landscaping that needs to occur at the site.


Rendering of completed project

Project details and involvement opportunities available here.