Urban Oases of Victoria - Nootka Court

The main building at Nootka Court with the Vic Theatre below.

With three separate entrances on three different streets, all seemingly going into different buildings, it is not obvious that Nootka Court is a cohesive entity or even that it was meant to be that way. Built in 1976, Nootka Court brought together new office buildings and older buildings, creating a unique place in Victoria that is worth walking through. 

It is hard now to imagine what the ultimate goal of the architect was, though it would seem, that it was in part to bring a little bit of mystery and surprise to those that entered the space. It may also have been trying to create a place of quiet for those working in the surrounding offices either way, places like this are not created like this anymore. It is maybe that they have evolved into places like The Atrium or perhaps that the complexity of this type place made it too difficult for commercial to succeed.

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The courtyard and Jagasilk Teabar.
It is hard to discern the centre of Nootka Court when you walk through or where the focal point should be, perhaps the carved pole or the old phone booth. It is a little bit like walking through a large English garden, with benches and gateways and little pathways leading nowhere. You can wander and the mystery of the place distracts you. 


Despite being a beautiful little project, over the years it has not been the most successful of developments, particularly with the commercial component. The office above is leased to the provincial government and as far as I am aware has never been an issue. Still, because of the fact that in some ways it feels a bit like a walled garden, many people feel hesitant to enter. Because of the serenity though, some places have done well. There used to be one of the best Japanese lunch places in town here, Daidoco, which only closed because the owners wanted to do other things, as it was immensely popular. And even now,
there is an amazing little tea shop set down next to the sunken garden, Jagasilk. Both places were completely meant for Nootka Court. Other places like the Vic Theatre have not done as well over the years, though recently it has been resurrected and as far as I am aware, is the only theatre in Victoria serving drinks with all its shows! 


Next time you are near the southern end of downtown take a stroll through Nootka Court and get a sense of a different way of designing an office complex. 

Comments

  1. Having worked in offices in 3 locations in Nootka Court (one of which is now the Maritime Museum space) I can attest to its quirkiness and sense of having entered another time and place. It's been about 10 years now since I last had to venture into NK for employment purposes and despite being in the area fairly frequently I have felt little desire to visit. From the exterior it's very hard to tell precisely what lies beyond the entrances and quite frankly once you are inside NK mostly disappoints as a retail environment. That being said, I can't argue that it is a respite from the outside world, but for the most part it is easily forgotten when it comes to places to visit in downtown Victoria.

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  2. I completely agree John. It is one of those perpetually almost amazing places in Victoria that always gets sidetracked before it succeeds. Just like Market Square...

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  3. I walked through about 3 months ago. It is cool. when I was much younger I'd go there quite a bit. Can't really remember what for though.

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