Tulita Community Centre and Town Office

Modular Building Category: Permanent
Category: Office, Institution of Assembly
Location: Hamlet of Tulita, NWT, Canada
Number of Modules: 13
Total square feet: 6,336
Number of levels: 1
Average size of modules: 12x40
Date of production: July 11, 2014
Date occupied: October 28, 2014
Use of building: Town office and cultural centre, including a radio room – it’s a multipurpose building for the remote community 

Architectural Excellence

Tulita is a remote hamlet in the Northwest Territories, Canada. Alta-Fab worked with Tulita to custom-design, build, and install a new town office and cultural centre to bring the citizens a comfortable space with a permanent feeling where they could all gather, work, and connect.

Due to the extreme northern and remote location, the project presented a number of logistical challenges. Alta-Fab found several solutions.

  • We ensured as much work as possible was completed in plant at Alta-Fab to avoid the high costs of flying employees to the construction site.
  • We used innovative building methods because the barge’s capacity and the supply of building equipment in Tulita were limited.
  • The modules were built and tested in the Alta-Fab shop and then taken apart for shipping. All connections were checked for easy re-assembly and to guarantee they worked once on-site. 
  • The modules and other materials were shipped by a barge, which ran on a limited seasonal schedule, due to the secluded northern location. We carefully planned the schedules to match up with the barge’s schedule.
  • With no access to cranes, modules needed to be moved from barge and onto steel foundation piles with the equipment available. To do this, the structure of the modules incorporated a steel permanent handling frame, which also provided savings in the foundation structure.

Technical Innovation and Sustainability

To contend with extreme environmental conditions in the far north—where temperatures can reach as low as 54.4 degrees below Centigrade not factoring in wind chill—special attention was given to the building envelope, which was guided by local engineering experts. 

  • We layered of various insulation types.
  • The innovative, cost-effective heating and ventilating system comprised of oil-fired boilers, including primary and backup boilers.
  • Specialty heat-traced and insulated under-building utilidors were built to ensure temperature-sensitive services would survive in the extreme cold.
  • Alta-Fab also engineered the town centre building for the future addition of a rooftop solar panel power system.  

Cost Effectiveness

Due to the extremely remote location, there was limited availability of specialized trades travelling to the build site, so the majority of the mechanical and electrical work needed 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 made efficient use of their budget. In order to reduce ongoing costs for the facility, the efficient glycol-based boiler system was used a more cost-effective alternative to diesel or electric heating systems

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