August 29, 2012
School designed with community in mind
A Regina-based architecture firm is taking a revolutionary approach to the design of a new high school that includes the integration of a wide variety of community services.
“The project is very unique in that most people think of a shared facility as a shopping mall with a common area, which joins up tenant type spaces. This is not a shopping mall approach and that is not what we are doing here,” said James Youck, president of P3 Architecture.
“The integrated approach begins with a desire to integrate the programs of the various partners. It’s about the community co-ordinator for the city working with the phys-ed teacher to have programs, not just for the high school, but also the community.”
The Saskatchewan Ministry of Education, the City of Regina, the Regina Public Schools and the Regina Public Library are investing about $38 million in combined capital funding for the construction of a new integrated learning facility in Regina’s North Central neighbourhood.
Initially, the plan included an onsite community health centre operated by the Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region, but the project didn’t receive funding in the last provincial budget.
The new facility has yet to be formally named, but has been referred to as the North Central Shared Facility.
The project integrates Scott Collegiate high school with a daycare, recreation centre and a public library.
It will also move some of the students’ learning experiences to shared community space from the traditional classroom setting.
“In the case of high school, as opposed to having home room, the students will work from assigned work stations, where they will do a considerable amount of their work,” said Youck.
“The teachers will act more as advisors to students, as they do projects across disciplines.”
According to Youck, the new approach to learning is moving away from the concepts of one grade, one classroom, or one teacher, one classroom.
A different method is being used to deliver the curriculum, which attempts to provide more of a real world experience and not a teacher lecturing students from the front of the room.
“School design hasn’t changed for more than one hundred years,” said Youck.
“School design is one of the most deeply entrenched of all building models. The skin may change and have a more modern appearance, but the fundamentals remain the same. The big challenge in changing school design is to change the way teachers and school boards think about delivering the curriculum.”
The new way of delivering the curriculum aims at taking advantage of modern classroom technology, while meeting the learning outcomes.
The change in the delivery method is associated with a corresponding structural innovation or change in the classroom environment.
Fielding Nair International, which did the initial design work, estimated the project would have cost about $70 million to $80 million.
However, the overall scope of the project has been reduced to $30 million after budgetary constraints and the project was put on hold for a year.
“One of the biggest challenges is to take the previous design work that was done and compress it, while achieving the project goals and concept integration, and do it with a smaller budget,” he said.
P3 Architecture worked on the initial design as a subcontractor under Fielding International.
“The opportunity to work with them provided us with the knowledge of the project to go into detailed design stage and to redo concept design based on a smaller budget,” Youck said.
“When the project was put on hold, we had to compete for the work, but we had the benefit of being involved in the project early on.”
He said the vast majority of the community consultation, which took place under Fielding International, is still applicable and is being used as a foundation to move forward. More consultation will take place when the project gets into the detailed working drawings stage.
Tenders for the construction of the facility will be issued once the working drawings are complete.
Construction is expected to take 15 to 18 months.
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