On Thursday, October 5, DIALOG, along with Vivo, announced the opening of the reimagined Vivo for Healthier Generations facility in the northwest community of Country Hills, Calgary. The architectural transformation, expanding the existing facility to 269,000 square feet, challenges the notion of a traditional recreation centre – with an emphasis on supporting physical, social, and emotional health.
DIALOG partnered with EllisDon Construction on the expansion of Vivo for Healthier Generations.
“Vivo for Healthier Generations has been a labour of love for almost a decade,” shares Marion LaRue, DIALOG Partner. “The project’s completion is a testament to the power of rethinking spaces to be more flexible, encouraging purposeful flow and engaging the outdoors. We are incredibly proud to bring residents and visitors to Calgary the benefits of a renewed gathering and activity space that, in its essence, is a place for everyone. We are also grateful to Vivo and all of our partners who helped us create a supportive, built environment that reduces sedentary behaviour and increases social cohesion.”
Designing a Space for Everyone
Northeast Calgary is growing quickly, and with growth comes new demand for family recreation spaces. Vivo’s original facility was built to serve 80,000; upon completion they were already at capacity. Granted new funding from the government and the community, Vivo partnered with DIALOG to expand its facility.
DIALOG rooted the vision for the project in a community co-design process, aiming to address key needs like maximizing a connection to nature and spontaneous play; increasing environments for holistic wellness, and building community resiliency – all with thoughtful design interventions. The new and renovated space unites all ages, abilities, and cultures in stronger physical, social, and emotional health. This includes making sure the centre was rooted in inclusivity. The indoor park, market plaza, community garden, hub, youth areas, community courtyard and preschool are all meant to connect with different audiences. The facility also houses Calgary’s first ever indoor park, slated for LEED Gold certification.
Redefining What it Means to be Active
Aligning with the facility’s mission to expand opportunity for unstructured play and spontaneous activity, the most innovative aspect of Vivo is the indoor park – a literal moving space complete with all the physical and social activities one would participate in outdoors – allowing for continuous use in all seasons.
Also new to the facility are a six-lane, 4,878 square foot pool, fitness centre with dedicated studios, research lab, yoga studios, tinkering lab, classroom, spa with European steam and sauna rooms, outdoor activity space and community rooms. The Green Space is a direct physical response to the need for more social connection, and provides more gathering space for community celebrations and events.
The project also has a strong dedication to sustainability through its LEED Gold target, on-site solar generation and commitment to measuring biophilia. Following the COVID-19 pandemic, the air circulation systems can also be compartmentalized, with the spaces offering flexibility and convertibility.
A Precedent for Data-Driven Design
DIALOG used the Community Wellbeing Framework tool when designing Vivo – a tool serving as a guide for the building industry, providing a framework to help designers and cities think about the social, cultural, economic, political and environmental impact to a community’s quality of life. For this project in particular, DIALOG will monitor the facility’ s ability to improve the community it serves over the coming years to show that data-driven design is the future of inclusive, accessible and diverse architecture.
“We are thrilled to announce the completion of the expansion project at Vivo, and our partnership with DIALOG has been instrumental in bringing the community’s vision to life,” said Cynthia Watson, Chief Evolution Officer, Vivo. “Through years of community consultation, we heard that new and different spaces were needed; a community hub that fosters connections. DIALOG was a partner that was willing to work with us to ensure that the promises to our community of incorporating inclusion, sustainability and accessibility into several aspects of the project were delivered. The design reflects connection to people, community and planet. Together, we are building more than just structures; we are shaping the future of healthier generations.”
“We were proud to partner with DIALOG and Vivo on the transformation of the Vivo for Healthier Generations facility. This unique structure challenges conventions and sets a new standard for recreation centres,” said Sean Dekoning, Senior Vice President and Area Manager, EllisDon Calgary. “It’s not just a place for physical health but a hub for fostering well-being in every sense. Together, we’ve created more than a building and have paved the way for a healthier community.”