Southside Elementary/Middle School (Stitó:s Lá:lém Totí:lt)
Located next to the Vedder River in Chilliwack, BC, this new school complex is designed to connect a vibrant, collaborative learning environment to the natural beauty at its doors.
The K-8 school supports a 930-student population while also providing additional amenities to the Chilliwack’s South Side community. Surrounded by an athletic complex and a variety of flexible landscaped spaces, the two-storey school building houses a Neighborhood Learning Centre.
The site overlooks the Vedder River, and the building is organized along a central circulation spine that traces the river’s banks. Classrooms on two levels are oriented along the south side, facing the river, allowing optimal daylight exposure and views. More prominent, shared program elements, including two gymnasiums, are located on the north side. The circulation axis that runs the length of the building connects public spaces, provides light, and allows for overlooks between levels and into double-height volumes. The focal point of the plan is a two-storey learning commons with amphitheatre seating facing south towards the river and overlooking exterior terraced decks, play, and learning areas through double-height glazing.
Cast-in-place concrete forms the primary structural floor system paired with steel-framed roofs. Large span volumes, including the gyms, art and music rooms, drama theatre, and workshop, use a tilt-up panel construction method. For the featured central two storey volume spine and learning commons, a timber roof is supported by exposed glulam columns. Facing the river, the timber elements of the learning commons form a distinct connection between the building and its natural surroundings. The project fosters a stimulating and connected learning environment from the approach to site design to the student experience and incorporates sustainable design initiatives including use of timber.