(Click an image below to see enlargement)
When the hamlet of Tulita needed a new town office and cultural centre, they wanted a comfortable space with a permanent feeling where citizens could come together. Alta-Fab worked with the town to custom-build a multipurpose facility to meet these needs. Located in an extremely remote area of Northern Canada, the project presented a number of major logistical issues making modules built in plant rather than using an on-site best approach. Due to the secluded northern location, the modules and other materials needed to be shipped by a barge running on an aggressive seasonal schedule. The capacity of the barge and limited supply of building equipment in the town demanded innovative building methods be used. With no access to cranes, modules needed to be moved from barge and onto steel foundation piles with only basic, limited equipment. To do this, the structure of the modules incorporated a steel permanent handling frame, which also provided savings in the foundation structure.
To contend with extreme environmental conditions in the far north, special attention was given to the approach to the building envelope, which was guided by local engineering experts. This required changes in the layering of various insulation types. The heating system, comprised of oil fired boilers (primary and backup), provided an innovative and cost-effective heating and ventilating system for the complex. Specialty heat-traced and insulated under-building utilidors were built to ensure temperature-sensitive utilities would survive the extreme cold. A specialized sewage tank and collection system were also specific to the extreme environment. In addition, the town discussed plans during the project design to include a solar power system in the building’s roof. To meet this need, the project was completed with structure in mind for panels to be installed. Though they were not installed in the initial build, the town plans to upgrade to this power source in the future.
Due to the extremely remote location of this build, much of the unit construction needed to be done prior to shipping. Logistical issues limited the availability of specialized trades travelling to the build site, so the majority of the mechanical and electrical work had to be completed in the plant. Despite these challenges, this project was completed quickly and efficiently, and the use of plant-built modules reduced the number of people needed on-site. This reduced costs for the town and ensured the project was an efficient use of their budget. In order to reduce ongoing costs for the facility, an efficient glycol-based boiler system was installed as a more cost-effective alternative to diesel or electric heating systems.