Iredale Group Architecture

Iredale Group Architecture

November 02, 2011 11:00 ET

Penticton Indian Band School Design National and International Recognition

Penticton Indian Band Finds Right Equation to Bring the Students Back

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - Nov. 2, 2011) - Despite the recent reports of higher than ever absenteeism among First Nation students, the new Outma Sqilx'w Cultural School has calculated the right algorithm for student engagement. The new school opened just in time for the 2011/2012 school year and is already reporting record attendance.

The School is the result of intensive collaboration between the Band's project team, the Federal and Provincial Governments. Chief Jonathan Kruger acknowledges the strong team effort that took place in order to bring the school project to reality. "We are very appreciative and impressed by the efforts of the Federal and Provincial Governments and Indian and Northern Affairs Canada. All levels of Government were committed to bringing this vision to reality and we believe the project has delivered a landmark building that everyone can be proud of."

In addition to Government support, a large team on the ground including Architects, Engineers and local contractors such as Western Industrial, their sub-trades and local suppliers all made huge contributions resulting in approximately $6 million being put back into the local economy, while also completing the project under budget.

The goal of the School was to create a contemporary space that captivated students using today's technologies and to also create curiosity and pride for culture. The School incorporates many technologies for both learning and sustainability, including smart boards in the classrooms, video conferencing, WiFi, a low energy geothermal system for heating and cooling and more than ample natural lighting to run the School without artificial means during the day. "We knew that to inspire our children to want to learn about our culture, we needed to create a modern visual narrative of our heritage. This building accomplishes that beautifully," said Chief Kruger.

Peter Hildebrand, Partner in charge of design with Iredale Group Architecture, wanted to ensure the School was contemporary and reflective of the Penticton Indian Band's culture. "The design brief required that the building grow from the landscape and so the colour palette and soft curvaceous forms mimic the textures of the nearby rolling hillsides. The design culminates in a dramatic atrium, dedicated to teaching the Okanagan People's language history and art, with interactive sound and video media, the interior space is an artistic interpretation of the traditional pit house, conducive to passing down First Nations traditions."

Trying to construct the ambitious project using the architect's design and the Penticton Indian Band's vision created the opportunity to try new methods and explore different ideas, says Project Manager, Prashant Pandit, of Stantec, "We were excited to be involved on this project which had so many great opportunities to expand the horizon for each of the sub-consultants. We knew that if we could build it, the new School would perfectly illuminate the local First Nation's culture."

All of these features culminated in National and International recognition. In 2010, the School made the Top 20 Short-List for best designed schools in the world at the World Architecture News competition. Last week the project was given a Best of Canada award by Canadian Interiors magazine and will be featured in their November 2011 issue. The School is also handling requests from local and international businessmen and tourists to view the new school. Pandit reports, "News of the School has travelled quickly. We recently had a group of Korean Business men tour the new school, who were interested in the glue-laminated timber installation." Constructed by local business Structuram.

To view photos of the Outma Sqilx'w Cultural School, please visit the following link:

For more information and photos of the completed Outma Sqilx'w School, visit:

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