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LAB-ÉCOLE Gatineau

Gatineau, QC
Government of Quebec
53,184 ft² (4,941 m²)
In partnership with the ministère de l'Éducation et de l'Enseignement supérieur, Fonds de Recherche du Québec - Société et Culture (FRQSC), Canada Foundation For Innovation and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Figurr Architects Collective is proud to have participated in this bidding contest geared toward rethinking tomorrow’s schools.

Figurr’s concept is adapted for the Pierre-Elliott Trudeau school for the Western Quebec school board located in Gatineau. This welcoming site is inspired by our childhood fairy tales where the emphasis is on discovery and enchantment, which is the premise for all learning regardless of the child’s age. The design proposes a link between the indoor and outdoor spaces, thus transforming the site into a holistic learning environment where nature and the building are one. Thus, the trees naturally delineate the land whereas a landscaped area allow teachers and students to congregate for outdoor learning.

The forest stimulates imagination and discovery. Moreover, upon reflection, forests are at the heart of all childhood fairy tales. In this conceptualisation, it will serve as a welcoming element. Children will pass along more than thirty trees and shrubs before entering the school. This microclimate, which is also a playground is easily accessible for young children. Furthermore, because of the large windows surrounding the cafeteria it is possible for school personnel to see the children playing outside which creates a safe and inviting playground.

A pedestrian path accessible to everyone is proposed joining the outdoor play areas located East to West, navigating through the various school areas such as, the holistic space. Through the reorganisation and the demolition of the lower part that houses the administration, which is around the current gymnasium, the creation of a second story will accommodate common open spaces and allow to group same cycle classes. An outdoor clearing has been thought of as a gathering place where children, teachers, and the community can meet and interact. Furthermore, lowered indoor stands on the ground floor act as an amphitheater and allow for a breathtaking view of the outdoors.

Moreover, a portion of these stands converts to both an indoor and outdoor four-season garden. In the winter, the site becomes a playground that offers topographical changes to stimulate learning and favours well-being thanks to the natural light coming through.

Finally, the child’s well-being and the variety of areas conducive to his or her learning are at the heart of our conceptual ideas to improve the architecture of the Pierre-Elliott Trudeau school. We think that tomorrow’s schools must consider cultural differences, diversity, personalities, the various environments in which the child evolves and above all be a community gathering place where everyone benefits.

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