EMBRACING PROGRESSIVE DESIGN AND LEARNING ELEMENTS
COLLABORATION WITH NUMEROUS STAKEHOLDER GROUPS TO CREATE ADVANCED LEARNING PRACTICES AND EFFECTIVE MULTIPURPOSE USE.
LEED Gold Standard
Cesqenele Elementary School is a $16 million elementary school in Maple Ridge, BC, with a capacity for 600 students. The project is in the early stages of schematic design and a late 2017 construction start is anticipated. The school will target LEED Gold Certification.
One-Storey Design Accommodates Indoor Pods and Outdoor Learning
Maple Ridge is a progressive school district that embraces 21st century learning principles. The one-storey school design, unusual for schools with tight space constraints, includes “pods” organized in communities to provide a more intimate learning experience for students. The pods follow the Da Vinci configuration – a mix of learning disciplines within each grouping. The learning pods also have direct access to exterior learning spaces. Students can have their classes inside and then walk outside, straight from their pods, to benefit from outdoor learning. For example, outside the building is an attractive riparian area that fosters a connection to nature. This innovative design reflects the client’s priority for outdoor education and collaborative learning.
Extensive Stakeholder Engagement
CHPA does not begin a project with a preconceived design. Instead, it invites and welcomes input from a number of stakeholders. Over two days, 12 meetings were held on a wide range of topics, to allow CHP to obtain detailed information and feedback. The efforts of this multi-disciplinary team will enable the school to reflect the visions and priorities of 12 diverse stakeholder groups, including First Nations, sustainability specialists, teachers, and librarians. Two of the stakeholder groups – the sustainability team and the outdoor teachers – plan to take one of the learning pods and turn it into an off-the-grid area of the school. This pod will have solar power, composting and water recycling incorporated in its design, representing a progressive choice that offers students a learning environment that is completely off-grid.
Influential First Nations Engagement
The First Nations stakeholder group conveyed to CHP that it wanted the school, which is on traditional land, to reflect the language, history and culture of its people. This approach would enable all students to gain insight into the rich history and purpose of the land, and those who lived on it, before the school was built. In response, although the project is in its early stages, CHP is already contemplating various exciting ways to incorporate First Nations language and art throughout the school as a means to tell this story.
Creating Excitement in the Community
CHPA created a means to generate enthusiasm about the project in the Maple Ridge community – even during its early design stages. Information was used from the funding report, which CHP developed, to create a detailed rendering that pictured people, cars, trees and other elements of the project. This approach allowed the community to easily understand the nature of the school and the role it would play in the area.
A Collaborative Approach to Addressing School and Community Needs
The school will be used as a community centre after hours and on the weekends. In response, a large multipurpose learning commons was designed that will function also as a community hall. Other design features include spaces for: multiple kitchens, childcare areas, child play areas, early learning programs, and administrative use.
A key design consideration involves the school’s life cycle approach. An energy model will be developed early in the design stages that calculates payback over time. It will allow the client to determine where to focus its spending – for example, on mechanical or other systems. Also, CHP will meet with the maintenance team in the project’s early phases, to ensure that the building is easy to maintain and that it will continue to look attractive and perform efficiently in the future.