This elementary school project offered an opportunity to demonstrate how sustainability and the creation of an inspired learning environment are complementary agendas in school design.

Strategic decisions regarding material selections reinforce ideas of sustainability and connection to the natural surroundings in which the building was set.

Pre-cast concrete floors and roof, concrete block, and clay brick all represent locally available and highly durable material selections. Complementary natural woods and composite wood panels describe a relationship to with the natural surroundings while utilizing renewable and fully recyclable products.

Enhanced interior day-lighting is accomplished through large, north facing windows for all classrooms and translucent glazing panels that direct and diffuse natural light deep into the gymnasium space.

Continuous curtain wall glazing for the library with a view out across the Muskoka River is accompanied by a deep soffit overhang that minimizes summer solar heat gain. This employment of day-lighting techniques reduces energy demand for lighting which can constitute as much as 30% of the energy requirement for a typical school building. Natural light has also been linked to improved student performance.

Our experience in “evidence based” design, exemplified in this project, continues to be used on other projects to create positive learning environments.


Bracebridge, Ontario




22,000 ft²


New Construction




David Whittaker