Kensington Park Washroom Building

British Columbia

The City of Burnaby commissioned the Kensington Park Washroom to be a cost effective but architecturally interesting public washroom facility in this destination park.

The facility employs the concept of a building within a building. The interior structure is white, the exterior a joyful red, and both are constructed with concrete masonry units. Emphasis was placed on adding texture, pattern, and playfulness to a standardized model of park building construction. These elements were achieved through inventive use of masonry materials.

Architecture that would be hardy and discourage vandalism was stressed. This was achieved by rotating concrete blocks by 5°, creating a non-planer surface that deters graffiti. This articulated surface is continued on the interior of the building, also to prevent internal vandalism. The rotated blocks produce an articulated surface on exterior and interior walls, creating interesting shadow and light play at distance and up close.

A house, within a house, within a park...

The details were carefully researched to maintain continuous access to the unit cores for reinforcement and to include only double-enders in the rotated blocks, providing a clean finish. By exploring the pragmatic qualities of concrete masonry units, the Kensington Park Washroom expresses architecture that is innovative, giving new life to historical mid-20th
century techniques.

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The rolling metal door is closed from dusk to dawn to prevent vandalism, but when open, the facility has no front door, allowing easy access and an open feel.


Looking from the back of the facility towards the entrance, the light provided by the skylights and open front entrance is enhanced by the white walls to create a
bright and open space. Wood ceiling beams add warmth, and the rotated concrete blocks add texture to the interior.