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Windermere Fire Station No. 31


Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

June 2023


Pat Hanson (Lead Design Architect), Joel Di Giacomo (Project Architect)


Linus Murphy (Partner-in-Charge, Prime Consultant)


City of Edmonton


Raymond Chow


For fire stations, the functional programming of the building plan demands precise organization and rigour. Facilitating a quick response time remains the single most important functional aspect of station design, so a clear plan diagram is paramount, including a careful design of the relationship between the apparatus bays - the working part of the station - with the firefighter living quarters. The apparatus bays area - essentially a vehicle garage - is painted in a white colour, increasing interior daylight levels and promoting a healthy working environment. The domestic area is organized around a corridor circuit, with the change-rooms and fitness centre in the middle, and the sleeping areas, kitchen, lounge, and offices around the perimeter.

Strategically placing glazed walls between the garage and domestic quarters provides connection and holistic spatial unity across the entire building. These visual connections are important for orientation, safety and facilitating quick response time.

The station is approximately 1,500m2 in total, with the three apparatus bays and technical support spaces occupying over half of this area. Office and operational spaces, domestic quarters account for an additional 450m2. The remaining area is allocated to mechanical and infrastructural equipment, not insignificant in scale and scope given the Net Zero performance of the building.

The exterior brick cladding evokes a distinct stature and gravitas for the project while also allowing play of scale. The sculptural opportunities of brick are apparent in the switch at the window datum from a regular bond to an open, woven pattern. The latter provides visual texture and makes the most of the vibrant Alberta sunshine and intense Prairie shadows.


As civic buildings, fire stations find themselves in the unusual role of being highly functional, technical buildings embedded in residential communities, where they preside over the safety of their citizens. The opportunities for contemporary fire stations are both symbolic and functional, building on the fire station’s reputation as a trusted civic presence and part of the history of neighbourhoods.

Fire Station #31 serves a new community in Southwest Edmonton. Surrounded by the North Saskatchewan River, Anthony Henday Drive and the Whitemud Creek Ravine, the new neighbourhood, Windermere, represents the careful integration of the natural and built environment. Within this community, the new Net Zero Energy Fire Station #31 acts as a welcoming landmark and visible exemplar of the City of Edmonton’s ambitious Energy Transition Strategy.

The site of this fire station is south of a local public school and low rise apartment buildings, and north of a new commercial centre. The station is well located for emergency response and to meet the functional requirements of Edmonton’s Fire Rescue Services. The building is a single storey, three bay design that provides full fire fighting services.


Our design seeks to create an expressive, engaging structure that establishes civic presence, incorporates green technical advances and facilitates a high-functioning workplace. It also strives to represent permanence, security, wellbeing, comfort, and longevity in a community that is still in its relative infancy. When not in active emergency use, it acts as a welcoming beacon in a newly planned community and a landmark point of reference in a flat, suburban landscape of the Canadian Prairies.
The vision for this contemporary building takes cues from the past: the iconic image of the fire station is characterized by familiar features including a pitched roof, large fire truck doors, a hose tower and bell tower, and typically solid and heavy load bearing walls. The Windermere Fire Station also has an imperative for sustainability that implicates the form, materiality and orientation of the station, and ultimately its presence within the community.
The City of Edmonton requested a highly sustainable project that would generate on-site renewable energy equal to 100% of total building energy needs. The facility was also mandated to have an energy performance that is 40% more efficient than NECB 2011, yield 40% better Green House Gas emissions than the baseline using NECB 2011, and operate at 80 kilowatt-hours per square meter per year for heating needs. To date, the facility is meeting and exceeding these operational targets.
Outside, a landscape dominated by integrated stormwater management innovations such as a continuous bioswale cleans site water before discharging it into the municipal sewer system.

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