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Photo courtesy of Public City


Reusing industrial shipping containers and reclaimed wood from decommissioned university science labs, the Bike Lab is home to a community bicycle repair shop, run by the University of Winnipeg Students’ Association with the help of volunteers. Constructed of two shipping containers previously used by an Italian shipping company, the 320-square-foot space is used year-round. The containers rest on a foundation of temporary concrete blocks. The modular construction allows for the structure to be dismantled or reinstalled in another location, expanding the life of the design and leaving little to no impact on the surrounding environment.

Large glass openings cut into the container walls expose the interior, making the workspace visible to passers-by. Sampson has produced a design that fits well within its historical context and, yet, provides a very contemporary, well-designed gem.

Similar shipping-container architectural projects are a growing trend internationally, but bringing this type of material use to Manitoba, with an extreme climate, represents unique challenges in incorporating heating, electrical and water services at an affordable price. [1]

It is designed to provide secure, lockable storage for cyclists who either attend the university, work nearby, or catch a bus from here to elsewhere in the city. The student initiative offers training and maintenance support to experienced and novice riders alike.

Built off-site and transported by truck, the installation is made almost entirely of reused or recycled materials. Plywood as an interior finish provides lightness in transport, warmth of character, and flexibility of use. The light footprint building strategy uses marginal amounts of energy and can be equipped with solar power electrical generation at the roof combined with passive day-lighting strategies to keep the interiors light and safe. When necessary, bikeLAB can borrow energy from nearby campus buildings. Positioned at the interface of sustainable modes of transportation, bikeLAB is about promoting year-round ridership for public and active transit in Winnipeg, the coldest large city in the world. [2]


RAIC, National Urban Design Award, 2014

Prairie Design Award, 2014


[1]       “Bikelab.” Winnipeg Architecture Foundation. Accessed August 11, 2021. https://www.winnipegarchitecture.ca/uwsa-bikelab-university-of-winnipeg/.

[2]       “BIKELAB.” PUBLIC CITY ARCHITECTURE. Accessed August 11, 2021. https://www.publiccityarchitecture.com/university-of-winnipeg-bikelab.

Additional information:

 “UWSA BikeLAB.” The UWSA. Accessed August 11, 2021. https://theuwsa.ca/uwsa-bike-lab/.

“History of the UWSA BikeLAB.” University of Winnipeg. Students Association, n.d. https://theuwsa.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/History-of-the-UWSA-Bike-Lab.pdf.

“UWSA BikeLAB: PETER Sampson Architecture Studio Inc.” Archello. Accessed August 11, 2021. https://archello.com/project/uwsa-bikelab

Project Title: BikeLAB, University of Winnipeg
Artists:  Public City
Year: 2011

Place: Winnipeg, Manitoba

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