Enchokay Birchstick School
Mr. Barrie Ottenbreit from NumberTen Architectural Group (Winnipeg)
In 2007, a fire destroyed the First Nation’s original school. Since then, students from early years to Grade 12 had no choice but to attend school out of temporary portable classrooms. School attendance in these temporary facilities was low and attracting and retaining teachers was difficult. The new school has a 100,000sqf of floor space area. It is a focal point for the community, serving as its education centre, community gathering space, and hub for a wide range of educational activities. It is the largest building in the community, designed to be a safe and secure place that reflects and celebrates Pikangikum First Nation’s traditional values, cultures and traditions, while incorporating the latest in modern technology and school design. Since the project broke ground, the First Nation has seen a spike in school registration and every updates concerning the new facility generated huge excitement in the community.
The design theme centers around a visual representation of the journey of learning students will take as they progress from childhood to adolescence into adulthood. This journey is expressed throughout the school using thoughtful symbolism, colour, and a well-designed layout that serves to break up the space into distinct learning zones grouped by age level. The design-build team has put tremendous effort into the design, working long hours and going the extra mile to research and understand Pikangikum’s distinct and proud culture. The exterior wall pattern used a mix of several vivid colours with various shapes installed in different angles to reflect an outstanding dynamism.
A brick cladding system was originally planned for the project. Number Ten Architectural Group substituted brick for an EIFS cladding system in order to reduce the carbon footprint and improve energy efficiency of the building envelope. EIFS cladding assemblies are lighter than brick and an EIFS cladding system requires about 75% less energy than brick to extract and create the raw materials needed to produce both products. The EIFS cladding used on the Enchokay Birchstick School is called “ADEX-RS” by ADEX Systems Inc, a Canadian leading EIFS manufacturer. It was decided to install 100% of the insulation on the exterior side of the building envelope to eliminate any risk of condensation and reduce thermal bridging effect. Also, the EIFS is providing continuity of the air/vapour barrier system over the complete surface of the building envelope due to adhering the geometrically-defined drainage cavity EPS insulation over the continuous liquid-applied water resistive barrier. Combining continuity of the air/vapour barrier system and exterior insulation resulted in a high energy performing wall assembly.
All key participants worked in an integrated design process including the EIFS manufacturer and distributor. Several meetings were scheduled at Number Ten Architectural Group in order to address computer simulation modeling, work and improve details for the EIFS cladding system. Complicating the delivery schedule and budget are the complex logistics of building a project in a remote part of Northern Ontario that is not accessible by road. EIFS materials needed to be shipped in a carefully planned sequence using ice roads in winter, and barges in summer. Project was completed in due time and within budget. Every participants of the project were aligned with one main objective: get the project done right the first time and we succeeded.