Architecture students gain valuable experience in Newfoundland

Eight students from Ryerson University in Toronto are spending their spring break in Botwood to work on a community project with local residents.
Eight Ryerson University students are spending their spring break in Botwood to work on a unique community project.

A group of architecture students from Ontario are getting their hands dirty in Newfoundland.

The eight Ryerson University students are spending their spring break in Botwood to work on a community project with local residents. 

The town's fire hall has now doubled as a work site for the students, who are helping to rebuild a wooden gazebo-like structure on the old Botwood airbase.

Culture of Outports – which works on conservation projects in the province – has already completed three similar builds in other parts of Newfoundland.

"It's really great to get out in the field, and figure out how you do things in real life," said Alana Young, team leader with Culture of Outports.

"I think it's a bonus for them that the community's been so supportive and embracing."

The Botwood Heritage Society reached out to the architecture students for help reconstructing a weather station that was built in the early 1940s.

Project team leader Alana Young says the new structure is designed to have windows overlooking the site where a plane crashed into the Bay of Exploits in 1942.
Today, only the remains of the original structure exist by a popular walking trail, overlooking the location where a plane crashed into the Bay of Exploits in 1942.

The new project is adding infrastructure to that historic spot.

"When we came out, we had a few community consultation meetings, and with the input from the community, it was determined the weather station foundation would be the best spot for the build," said Young.

Scott Sceviour, with the Botwood Heritage Society, said the new build will tell a story to people in the community.

"The design is to look out the window, and have a view of the actual crash site. So it will tell a story of two events that actually happened in Botwood," said Sceviour.

While many of the students have said the hands-on work experience has been invaluable, the working conditions have been less than ideal.

"It definitely would've been an easier project in the summer," said architecture student Courtney Nicholson.

"But two pairs of socks goes a long way."

When it's completed, the structure will be dismantled into parts and brought to the site for its permanent installation.

The community unveiling of the project will be scheduled when the weather allows.