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Rainbow Elementary School

Waswanipi, QC
Client
Cree School Board
Cost of construction
$7.2M
Year of construction
2007
Contractor
Cree Construction and Development Company (CCDC)
Photos: Stéphane Brügger
The village of Waswanipi is located in northern Quebec, west of Chibougamau. In this Cree community, where nearly half the population is under 20 years old, the need for a new elementary school was becoming urgent.
L'École primaire Rainbow
L'École primaire Rainbow

L'École primaire Rainbow

L'École primaire Rainbow
The program submitted to the architects included 12 classrooms to accommodate up to 300 pupils, a language laboratory, a computer laboratory, a library and a gym. Also planned were administrative facilities, a teachers’ room and a multipurpose room where Cree community activities could be held.

L'École primaire Rainbow

In developing the concept, the architects sought to evoke the traditional values of the Cree community, such as respect for the land and the people living on it. The elongated shape of the building recalls the body of a sleeping fox. On the north side, the spine protects the building from cold winds while, on the south side, the flanks of the animal are exposed to the sun’s warmth.
L'École primaire Rainbow

L'École primaire Rainbow
L'École primaire Rainbow

L'École primaire Rainbow

Flexibility was central to the program submitted to the architects. The classrooms open onto corridors that are wide enough for tables to be added when necessary. The lobby looks over an agora from which the playground is reached. Bathed in warm sunlight, it is in this multi-purpose space where group meetings can take place, whether formal or impromptu. 

The teachers requested a flexible space that could be used as an additional classroom, a theatre, a community meeting venue or just a place where children can congregate and do their homework.