Combining world-leading environmental standards with equally-ambitious social inclusivity goals, Clayton Community Centre in Surrey, British Columbia unites recreation, library, arts and parks services into a seamlessly-integrated facility.

Studio Name: hcma
Design Team:
Partner in Charge:
Melissa Higgs (Architect AIBC, FRAIC)

Project Architect: Aiden Callison (Architect AIBC, LEED AP)
Associate:  Jessika MacDonald (Architect AIBC, MArch)
Architectural Technologist:  Juenessa Collins (Architectural Technologist AIBC, LEED AP BD+C, CPHD)
UK Registered Architect: Sebastian Elliott
UK Registered Architect: Martha Shields
Intern Architect: Joshua Potvin
Head of Strategy: Eli Harris
Creative Lead:  Bonnie Retief
Designer:  Alberto Buldón
Social Impact Advisor:  Fiona Jones
Director of Integrated Sustainability: James Woodall
Sustainability Coordinator: Zina Berrada
Project Manager: Nic Worth
Director of TILT Curiosity labs: Mark Busse
Project Assistant: Rachel Doo
Area: 7,000 m2 / 76,000 sq ft.
Year: 2020 (completed)
Location: Surrey, British Columbia, Canada
Consultants: Darryl Condon (Architect AIBC, AAA, SAA, OAA, FRAIC, LEED® AP)
Photography Credits: Doublespace, Andrew Doran, Ema Peter, hcma 

Clayton Community Centre By hcma - Sheet3
©Doublespace, Andrew Doran, Ema Peter, hcma

Passive House Certification

Clayton Community Centre was awarded International Passive House certification for ultra-low energy use in December 2021. The Centre is the first of its kind to be certified in North America and, at 76,000 sq ft / 7,060 sqm, it is also the largest non-residential project to be certified in North America.

By following Passive House criteria, the Centre has reduced energy consumption by 98% compared to the average performance of similar existing buildings in British Columbia* and reduced carbon emissions by 98% compared to the same building built to ASHRAE code*.

Passive House International is an independent research institute based in Germany. Certified buildings must meet a rigorous set of criteria and typically consume 70-90% less energy than conventional buildings while also maximizing occupant comfort. Since 1996, 1774 buildings have been Passive House certified globally, of which, just over 100 — mostly residential homes — are located in North America, according to the Passive House International database.

Clayton Community Centre By hcma - Sheet5
©Doublespace, Andrew Doran, Ema Peter, hcma


Designed to feel like it is part of the surrounding forest, the Centre focuses on meeting the current and evolving needs of the community, with social gathering spaces that help foster wellness, connection and resilience.

Community engagement played a crucial role in the design development. Rather than simply informing neighbouring residents of the building’s progress, Vancouver-based architecture and design studio, hcma, invited people into the process to actively shape its development. In the absence of a recognized independent standard, hcma created its own social impact framework based on principles of equity, social inclusion, sustainability and adaptability. Clayton Community Centre is the first building to have been completed using hcma’s framework from start to finish.

The unique mix of spaces combines arts and culture programming including music studios, recording studios and a community rehearsal hall, with recreational activities including a gymnasium and fitness centre, and a branch library. Previously accustomed to operating out of their own separate buildings, the four programs pooled space and resources during the design process, maximizing the potential for positive impact on both the community and their own operations.

Clayton Community Centre By hcma - Sheet8
©Doublespace, Andrew Doran, Ema Peter, hcma

hcma Principal Melissa Higgs says, “Clayton Community Centre demonstrates what’s possible when we prioritize social outcomes alongside design excellence and ultra-low energy use.”

She continues: “We are committed to looking outside ourselves for answers to the rapidly-changing needs of people and spaces. And while it definitely took professional expertise and technical rigor to realize the City of Surrey’s bold vision for this project, we saw the value in opening up the design process to end users to discover the path together. The end result — thanks to the input of these diverse voices — is richer than anything we could have imagined.”

Clayton Community Centre initially opened its doors in February 2021 with reduced programming due to COVID-19 restrictions. It officially opened in October 2021.

Clayton Community Centre By hcma - Sheet10
©Doublespace, Andrew Doran, Ema Peter, hcma

Clayton Community Centre in numbers

Size: 76,000 sq ft / 7,060 sqm

*Energy saving comparison:

72% energy savings, 98% carbon emissions savings compared to the same building built to code (ASHRAE 90.1 – 2010) with gas heating: American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers)

Compared to the average performance of similar existing buildings in BC:

Recreation centre without pools: 76% energy savings, 98% carbon emissions savings

Recreation centre without pools AND libraries: 75% energy savings, 97% carbon emissions savings.

Studio profile abstract:

hcma designs buildings, brands, and shared experiences that connect people. The company believes these connections can help solve the complex challenges we face. The team advocates for inclusive, accessible design that embraces everyone and minimizes environmental impact. They’re multi-skilled, but driven by a shared purpose: to maximize positive impact. They achieve it by learning from others. By challenging themselves. And by applying relentless curiosity to create the lasting change we all want to see in the world.


Rethinking The Future (RTF) is a Global Platform for Architecture and Design. RTF through more than 100 countries around the world provides an interactive platform of highest standard acknowledging the projects among creative and influential industry professionals.

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