Lalme’ Iwesawtexw | Seabird Island Community School


Agassiz, B.C.


2,190 square metres




Patkau Architects

Structural Engineer

C.Y. Loh Associates Ltd.

Project Materials




Solid-sawn heavy timber

Structural Systems

Low rise

Post + beam

Intricate and expressive design achieved without technology

  • Unique trapezoidal cedar-clad form is visually enigmatic.
  • All-wood design inspired by traditional First Nations longhouses.
  • Collaboration between architect and Indigenous community.

The Seabird Island Band’s all-wood community school draws inspiration from traditional timber-built First Nations longhouses. Completed in 1988, before computer modelling was common, the design was conceived entirely through hand drawings and physical modelling.

Co-design: communication, community and collaboration

The project is celebrated for its collaborative, community-based approach, which provided training for members who worked on the project and drew on principles of co-design—a model that calls for architects working with Indigenous communities to listen extensively to community members and meaningfully incorporate their design ideas. With no digital tools available at the time, the team built a physical model that became a critical tool for the construction team, illustrating how the framing was to be put together and helping to confirm the wood’s dimensions and measurements on-site.  The school was also built by members of the Seabird Island Band, which is a member of the Stó:lō Tribal Council.

Post & Beam wooden construction feature predominantly in this late evening photo of the low rise Kwakiutl Wagalus School which used panelized wood and prefabrication to decrease onsite build duration
Kwakiutl Wagalus School

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Exterior daytime view of multi storey Sk'elep School of Excellence main entrance, showing innovative timber design which effectively forms the wood version of a concrete waffle slab
Sk’elep School of Excellence

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Internal daytime view of low rise Wellington Secondary School showing circular open library and research area with students at desks and Glue-laminated timber (Glulam) 'spokes' radiating outward
Wellington Secondary School

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Interior view of low rise Crawford Bay Elementary-Secondary School main hallway showing hybrid construction utilizing paneling, post + beam, and a roof of stacked wood planks
Podcast with Ray Wolfe of thinkspace on designing wood schools

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