As the oldest farmers’ mutual insurance company in Ontario, Halwell is a well-established and trusted partner with farmers and their rural communities. When Halwell decided to build their new head office in the southeast corner of Kitchener, the goal was to create a building that reflects the clientele, the values of the company, and the landscape context perfectly.
Although Halwell wanted a sophisticated head office, they also didn’t want to alienate their rural clientele or their employees with an ostentatious design. Martin Simmons Sweers helped to create this correct impression that begins right from the moment a client arrives at the building. The front approach begins with attractive native species landscaping, which marries well with the hard-working, simple materials used in the exterior – a prominent use of wood and stone combined with contemporary steel and two-storey glazing. The use of wood was a deliberate choice that – along with the sloped roof - pays homage to rural construction and landscape.
Inside, walls and windows are carefully oriented and sized to focus and frame views of the surrounding rural landscape, creating vignettes that resonate with visitors and staff. Halwell’s commitment to creating a meaningful indoor environment is evidenced by the choice of triple-glazed windows, wooden slat shading and deep soffit overhangs to prevent draughtiness and glare.