University of Victoria Student Housing and Dining

Victoria, British Columbia
Transforming Campus Housing

Propelled to meet growing demand for on-campus housing, the University of Victoria endeavored to build a new student housing and dining facility—the first major project to enact the ambitions of the new Campus Plan, enhancing student experience and creating a more vibrant and walkable campus.

Engaging the University and its stakeholders, including Indigenous communities, we built on this vision to create a significant mixed-use complex as the ‘heart of residence life’, establishing a standard to guide future development. Integrating 782-beds; a 600-seat dining hall; and conference, academic, and common spaces; the facility is a model for residential life, organized to emphasize social connection and engagement as part of the academic experience.

With a high-quality sustainable design and precedent setting Passive House targets, the new Student Housing and Dining complex is set to make an impact on the national and international stage.

Defining a New Heart

The project’s prominent position on campus provided an opportunity to enact the first phase of the university’s Campus Greenway plan to create high-quality public space across the campus. The new buildings are oriented to reframe and define a new commons, deliberately incorporating active public spaces and large windows at ground level to create a new heart to the university’s housing precinct. The project invites connections to the broader campus community, intersecting two key pedestrian paths; bridging the greenway that connects the precinct to the academic campus; and creating a new north-south greenway within the precinct to create a new organizing spine for future building renewal.


A Model for Student Housing

With the goal to foster community and create a welcoming environment, this project proposes a model of residence life that integrates living, social connection, and student engagement as part of the academic experience. The first mixed-use student housing on campus, both buildings are organized to include a publicly accessible lower podium with housing floors above. The eight storey building, named Čeqʷəŋín ʔéʔləŋ (Cheko’nien House), contains a 600-seat dining hall, multi-purpose room for 200 students, servery, and commercial kitchen, in addition to 398 bedrooms. The 11 storey building, named Sŋéqə ʔéʔləŋ (Sngequ House), contains two 235-seat tiered lecture theatres, a conference centre—including a 400-seat banquet hall and a 100-seat meeting room—and 385 bedrooms.

Čeqʷəŋín ʔéʔləŋ | Cheko’nien House>



Sŋéqəʔéʔləŋ | Sngequ House>
“…it is really student focused. The whole point is to make the student experience the best experience it can be.”

― Adri Bell, University of Victoria student

High Performance

The Passive House standard was key to achieving high performance and low carbon targets and exceeds Step 5 of British Columbia’s Energy Step Code, the highest level of energy efficiency in the province. The facility is almost entirely electric powered, significantly diminishing the use of fossil fuels or combustion from its operation. A dramatic improvement from the former aging facilities, the new complex reduces the net carbon footprint by 90% while simultaneously increasing capacity by over 600 beds.


Setting a Precedent

Serving approximately 8,700 meals per day, the facility’s kitchen represents a significant amount of the building’s energy use. Employing a robust energy reduction strategy, it’s designed to be over 500% more energy efficient than convention, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80% for the entire building and setting a precedent for the largest commercial kitchen in a Passive House building in North America.

The project is designed to achieve certification under the Passive House standard with a commercial kitchen capable of serving 8,700 meals per day—an unprecedented task.
The light-filled multi-purpose room with views to plaza and commons below.
Comfortable and Healthy Indoor Environment

Employing the Passive House standard in the design of the building envelope allows for optimal regulation of thermal comfort in a changing climate. Outdoor air is provided at 100 percent in all spaces creating exceptional indoor air quality. All spaces have operable windows and healthy materials are throughout the building design. Passive solutions are incorporated wherever possible—including passive cooling significantly reducing the amount of energy used.


Spirit of Place

Once covered by camas fields and stands of Garry Oaks, significant to the local Indigenous community, the land dedicated to the new student housing and dining buildings would have stood less than a kilometre east of Sungayka, the former principal village of the Lekwungen-speaking peoples. Building on the university’s Indigenous Plan, this is the first project to engage in a new process with on campus and local Indigenous communities, exploring design opportunities to recognize and preserve the inherited spirit of the place and connect students to Indigenous history and culture. In honour of this history, the project incorporates a dedicated Indigenous student lounge and native plant species into the landscape.

Project Team

Alex Minard
David Damon
Portrait of Jana Foit, Higher Education Practice Leader in the Vancouver studio
Jana Foit
Adrian Watson
Kathy Wardle
Kaz Bremner