Located at Grahams Grove Park in Dartmouth, the new Kiwanis Grahams Grove Community Building was completed in the summer of 2023. Funded through a partnership between the Kiwanis Club of Dartmouth and the municipality, the structure – two twin buildings – was designed by local architect Rayleen Hill of RHAD Architects as a community hub and public gathering space.
The building is leased to the Kiwanis Club of Dartmouth and the Dartmouth Dragonboat Association.
Lake Banook was a place long used as a summer settlement by the Mi'kmaq.
Giving back to the land
Before the project reached design, a member of the municipality’s Diversity & Inclusion/ANSAIO team, Nadine Bernard, performed a blessing to honour the Mi’kmaq history of the site, which was long used as a seasonal settlement by the Mi'kmaq.
The building was designed to give back to the land and waterway of Lake Banook, guided by the Mi'kmaq tradition of considering the impact of our current actions on the next seven generations.
The building uses wood rather than concrete as the main building material, making it lighter on the land, and has maximum energy efficiency built in.
The gesture of giving back is the reason the structures were designed to look like long boats running parallel to the waterway and pointing towards the lake inlet. The way the front face of the building lifts up symbolizes the act of lifting up and giving back to the water spirits.
Constructed to blend harmoniously with nature, the roofs of the building were designed so that excess water is funneled away during extreme weather and excess rain.
Moving forward together
The long boat design was inspired by Nadine’s memories of her grandfather carving canoes by hollowing out a single log. The two boats running side-by-side represents the way the two building tenants, the Kiwanis Club of Dartmouth and the Dartmouth Dragon Boat Association, are moving forward together in this shared place.
The expansive deck space is already a magnet for members of the community and serving as the perfect informal gathering space.
Energy efficiency is at the heart of the design. The roofs of the building have a south-facing slope, perfect for the solar panels installed on top to provide 16 kilowatts of renewable power, which could save an estimated $3,000 of electricity annually.
Many other features have been added to conserve energy and protect the environment:
- bike racks to promote active transportation
- recycling bins
- space for a future electric vehicle charging station
- heat pumps for increased energy efficiency
- LED lighting and motion sensors inside the buildings with exterior lighting equipped with photocells that detect daylight and turn the lights on after dark
- outdoor drinking fountain to limit use of plastic bottles
The building design adheres to the guidelines of the Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility Certification (RHFAC) program and includes features like high-contrast signage with braille and raised text. The accessible public washroom includes a high-contrast tile pattern to highlight washroom equipment, an adult change table, an emergency call button, push button door operation and accessible heights on sinks and other washroom equipment.
The building features other public amenities like a public deck space overlooking the lake and recreation areas. The pathways have been upgraded to connect with the nearby sidewalk, making the area more accessible and better suited to active transportation.