April 2013

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secured into the permafrost that lies below ground surface, which means main entrances are elevated at least three metres above ground – a visual, physical and operational hindrance against which the community was adamantly opposed for East Three School. "Each of the three sections of school were stepped down one metre to accommodate the site slope and to locate entrances as close to grade as possible," explains Taylor. "The built-up grade gives the impression of a much lower building than would otherwise be the case, while also functioning as if the entrances were at grade." Another need was for a wind and snow specialist to anticipate and plan for the region's frigid weather conditions. The team consulted with Canadian-based Theakston Environmental, who assessed anticipated snow accumulation and windy locations around the site. "We constructed scale models of the development and surroundings, then simulated snow behaviour," explains Stephen Pollock, consulting engineer at Theakston Environmental. "The models were studied in an openchannel flume, with flowing water representing wind movement and silica sand representing snow." After taking East Three School p86-87East Three.indd 87 depth measurements and analyzing photographic results of the simulation, the team was able to identify potential locations for strong winds and accumulated snowfall, which were taken into account during planning and construction. The result is a two-storey building divided into separate wings for the elementary and high schools. The building is united by a central area housing the gymnasium and library – and the interior is just as carefully catered to the Inuvik community's aspirations as the building's site development. Though the building is set close to the ground to offset the site's compact foundation, users enjoy plenty of natural light thanks to significant quantities of clerestory glazing incorporated into the building facade and interior partitions. The glazing is augmented by strategically placed roof lanterns and light wells, contributing to an open, well-lit environment within the facility. "The glazing also cuts down on the building's need for artificial lighting," notes Taylor. "Electricity is incredibly expensive in Inuvik." Interior design was overseen by Ihor Pona, who has worked on projects throughout the Northwest Territories. Pona's goal for East Three School was to create a cohesive yet distinctive environment that reflects the differences between primary and secondary students. "It was important to define the separate schools while acknowledging the students' transition and growth from primary grades through to high school," Pona explains. "Our team accomplished this volumetrically using scale, graphics and differing colour palettes." Indeed, the artwork and graphics that fill the school are anything but arbitrary. The transition between age ranges is recognizable; for example, sections of wall in the elementary wing showcase land and sea animals, while areas for older students are marked by drawings that are more complex and abstract. Pona and his team also adapted elements of aboriginal culture, and alluded to local artifacts through beading and geometry. One key example located in an entryway is an interpretative painting of the "Delta Braid," which pays homage to the nearby Mackenzie Delta. Also notable are unexpected pockets of interactive space scattered throughout the facility. "We wanted to create opportunities for learning outside the classroom, so we made use of every nook and cranny," says Pona. "While I was photographing the site recently, I saw students gathering in these peripheral spaces, including below the staircase – so we know they're being used for their intended purpose!" Sustainability was also key, with the owner advocating East Three School as a leader among the region in eco-friendly design. In addition to clean-burning boilers and intuitive light control systems, the building features heat wheels that transfer heat to intake air, significantly reducing energy consumption. Because the school lacks air conditioning, sunscreens were installed to reduce solar glare in warmer seasons, and excess heat is removed thanks to the specialized roof lanterns and well-considered air-barrier, insulation and envelope details. The landscape architect Cornelia Hahn Oberlander collaborated with the architect and other professionals to integrate the site with the natural environment. For East Three School, the team consulted with Inuvik elders and incorporated their suggestions for indigenous vegetation, such as berry-bearing plants and native trees that were sustainably transplanted from the nearby forest. "The understory plant material was raised from seeds and cuttings were locally collected, grown in a professional propagation facility near Vancouver and returned to the site for planting after two years," says Cornelia Hahn, landscape architect. "We created a landscape genetically true to the north that echoes the region's boreal forest and fits seamlessly into the neighbourhood." Despite the potential for difficulties, the project was completed not only on budget but also one year ahead of schedule. "Everyone involved in the development – community, owner, contractor and design team – worked together collaboratively to ensure its success from beginning to end," says Taylor. And that truly captures the spirit of East Three School. n Location Inuvik, Northwest Territories Owner/Developer Education Culture and Employment — Government of Northwest Territories Architect Pin/Taylor Architects General Contractor Dowland Contracting Limited Structural Consultant Nelson Engineering Mechanical/Electrical/Civil Consultant Stantec Wind/Snow Consultant Theakston Environmental Interior Designer Ihor Pona Landscape Architect Cornelia Hahn Oberlander Total area 128,120 square feet Total cost $92.3 million april 2013    /87 13-04-05 2:26 PM

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