October 2014

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Seven Stones Community School by Susan Pederson photos: andrew lowes T his past September, over 350 pri- mary school students entered their new digs for the first time, and to- gether with their educators, embarked on a unique learning experience. Seven Stones Communit y School doesn't look like your "typical" school, and its teaching philosophy is as inno- vative as the structure itself. The Seven Stones is an Anishnabae teaching philosophy based on seven concepts: growth, adequacy, love, order, security, social approval and self-esteem. Seven Stones is the third school to be built in Regina that supports Regina Public School's Structural Innovation, and encompasses core principles such as flexible teaching arrangements and instructional groupings, inclusive prac- tices and integrated environmental design and curriculum. Randall Fielding, educational plan- ner and the design architect with Field- ing Nair International, says that feeling connected to one another within the space is just one critical element of Seven Stones' design. "They wanted a very flexible space, and the big common area provides that flexibility," says Fielding. "That extends to the learning studios as well, which are a departure from the traditional classrooms where you have four walls and little connection to anything out- side of those walls – that's not what our globally connected world is about any more." The two-storey atrium acts as a cen- tral heart, unifying four main learning centres, and provides core learning space for multiple learning modalities. Like a theatre or stage for learning, the atrium commons can be rearranged to accommodate all school meetings, per- formances and films. "The design allows for numerous 'schools within schools' and the fan- tastic daylight and views allow stu- dents to feel connected to one another," adds Greg Hasiuk, practice leader and partner at Number Ten Architectural Group in Winnipeg. "Instead of having a walled-in gymnasium, students can see what is going on in the gym." Quiet learning studios accommodate students with special needs and those needing more support. Within these studios are quiet rooms designed to support students who need separation or quiet time. Careful consideration of the physiological and psychological needs of students is infused through- out the building. Furniture is designed to remain comfortable as kids grow, or to facilitate rocking back and forth, for example. And although the exterior fea- tures colourful panels that enliven the facade, inside the palette is intentionally muted and neutral. "This is to showcase student work and activities, so it is really student engagement that makes this space come alive," says Hasiuk. "The design of the building is very much about open- ing up the south to the climate outside through curved lines and to connect with both the land and the sun." It's all about providing space that organically nurtures the learning and passion of students. Two Da Vinci studios honour the connection to science, art and inven- tion. "Here we are inspired by Leonardo da Vinci," adds Fielding. "The Da Vinci studios integrate multiple disciplines. Naming it after Da Vinci suggests that." Although Seven Stones boasts an innovative design, Rob Beaton, former principal and project engineer with Brownlee Beaton Kreke Consulting says that structurally the building is fairly conventional. "As a structural engineer you work on a lot of buildings and they all have their challenges. In this building, there are a lot of curves and engineers don't like curves," laughs Beaton. "There is an awful lot of glass in this building, which is also a departure from traditional schools. I think everyone loves the look of glass, and these windows create a very bright space. But if not done cor- rectly, they can create havoc with inter- nal environmental temperatures." MacPherson Engineering Inc. was up to the challenge of mitigating any envi- ronmental challenges of the LEED Silver structure, while meeting ASHR AE 62 ventilation requirements. Greg Fluter, senior design engineer with MacPherson, admits the southern facade with its curved windows, was a challenge. Perforated screening on the windows allows for light transmission and views, while reducing heat trans- mission into the building during hot weather. Displacement ventilation through perforated screens along the face of the bench (located in front of the windows) runs at a very low velocity (less than 50 feet/minute). Displacement ventilation is also used in the learning studios, with an overhead hybrid system utilized in the two-storey atrium space. " T he columns in t his area have ventilation built into them so that air blows horizontally towards the win- dows and across the glass, also at a very low velocity. When it is freezing outside, this system prevents the windows from fogging up," he adds. "You're using more energy to meet the LEED certification guidelines, but we are doing it in an energy-efficient way," Fluter explains. "The gymnasium has its own dedicated variable fan air handling unit, and each room uses a combination thermostat and carbon dioxide detector, so if no one is in the classroom, the air valve in the ceiling reduces air ventila- tion in the space." In-floor heating and cooling systems, low-flow toilets and myriad other state- of-the-art heating and cooling features round out the building. But as everyone knows, the bells and whistles and stun- ning design of the school are only the beginning. Julie MacRae, director of education, Regina Public Schools says, "On the learning and teaching side, the school represents a bright future for the com- munity's children. The school building facilitates student-centred, personal- ized learning and the development of collaborative problem solving skills." Embedded in the design of the learn- ing spaces is proven research of how children learn best and how to provide pre-kindergarten to Grade 8 students with opportunities for highly person- alized learning experiences. "The new building both complements and pro- motes culturally responsive teaching and is a catalyst for collaborative teach- ing practices," adds MacRae. Hasiuk comments, "It's a fantastic experience when you get to work with people who really want to put students first, and who are not afraid to put a world-class facility in their community. This building says to the community that we think you are worth it." ■ Location 1132 McTavish Street, Regina, Saskatchewan owner/DeveLoper Regina Public Schools architect Number TEN Architectural Group Design architect Fielding Nair International generaL contractor Clark Builders structuraL consuLtant Brownlee Beaton Kreke Consulting MechanicaL consuLtant MacPherson Engineering Inc. eLectricaL consuLtant Ritenberg & Associates Ltd. LanDscape consuLtant Crosby Hanna & Associates size 42,400 square feet totaL cost $17.7 million october 2014 /93 Seven Stones community School 10:44 AM 10:29 AM 10:46 AM

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