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Hemsworth Architecture factory

Hemsworth Architecture wraps Canadian mass timber factory in cedar slats

Canadian studio Hemsworth Architecture has completed a mass timber factory wrapped in vertical cedar slats, nestled in British Colombia's Squamish Valley.

Hemsworth Architecture created a 2,700-square-metre industrial facility for Leon Lebeniste Fine Furnishings & Architectural Woodworking in the region near Vancouver in 2021. The studio aimed to create an industrial structure that complemented the natural environment.

Interior of mass timber factory
The mass timber factory was designed by Hemsworth Architecture

"Typically, industrial buildings are seen as isolated black boxes, detached from their surroundings and social fabric," principal John Hemsworth told Dezeen.

"In contrast, the Leon Lebeniste facility challenges this convention by placing an emphasis on the use of sustainable materials, utilizing a large expanse of glazing along the street, and featuring a communal green roof and deck."

Cedar slatted facade
It is wrapped in vertical cedar slats

"These early design decisions serve to integrate the building and its occupants into the beautiful Squamish Valley, promoting a strong sense of connection to the site and the greater community," he continued.

The community gets a full view of the facility's inner workings via floor-to-ceiling glazing along the production floor, which is broken by custom metal panelling.

Gululam post and beam columns
The nearly rectangular building is constructed with glulam post and beam columns

The rest of the three-storey building is wrapped in vertical red cedar slats that were treated with a natural preservative to extend the material's life and minimise maintenance.

The nearly rectangular building is constructed with glulam post-and-beam columns that support mass timber CLT panels, combined with concrete slabs for the floors and roof. The mass-timber structure was left exposed in places and is clad with plywood sheathing in others to create a warm environment.

Production floor of the factory
The high ceiling of the production floor affords spaciousness for the machinery

A high ceiling was installed on the production floor to afford space for the machinery, including a 5-axis milling machine, custom veneer production, and a traditional millwork layout and assembly area.

The main staircase – a millwork collaboration with Leon Lebeniste – functions as the central spine for the building and leads up to the mezzanine level, which holds offices, a kitchen, communal spaces and overlooks the production floor.

Main timber staircase
The main staircase creates a central spine for the building

"Even though the design process is technologically-driven, you still need a direct relationship and access to what’s going on on the shop floor," Hemsworth explained.

The third level is composed of more industrial and office space that can be shared with other local creators through a small business incubator program.

The corner of the top floor pulls back to create a café space with a rooftop patio and a living green roof, planted with local vegetation, that looks out to the mountains beyond.

The wood throughout the project was sourced from sustainably focused producers in British Columbia and lowers the embodied carbon on the project in comparison to other local industrial buildings.

The wood construction also enables seismic resiliency and pays homage to the timber history of the Squamish Valley.

Green roof
A living green roof features on the top floor

Previously, Hemsworth Architecture completed an all-wood Passivhaus factory with prefabricated elements in Pemberton, British Columbia. Across the nation, in Quebec, Atelier Guy also used a mass timber structure for a wood-production facility.

The photography is by Ema Peter.

Project credits:

Structural: Equilibrium Consulting Inc.
Mechanical: MCW Consultants Ltd.
Electrical: MCL Engineering Ltd.
Civil: Web Engineering Ltd.
Landscape: Considered Design Inc

More images and plans

Ground floor plan
Ground floor plan
Mezzanine floor plan
Mezzanine floor plan
Second floor plan
Second floor plan
Factory by Hemsworth Architecture
Factory by Hemsworth Architecture
Factory by Hemsworth Architecture
Factory by Hemsworth Architecture
Factory by Hemsworth Architecture
Factory by Hemsworth Architecture
Factory by Hemsworth Architecture
Factory by Hemsworth Architecture
Factory by Hemsworth Architecture
Factory by Hemsworth Architecture