4,777 square metres
Making nature elementary
Samuel Brighouse Elementary makes wood and natural materials central to its design. Sustainable features and a community garden reinforce a curriculum focused on environmental stewardship. The school provides educators, support staff, and more than five hundred students from kindergarten to grade 7 with modern classrooms, offices, special education facilities, a computer lab, a library, and a gymnasium. A two-storey atrium offers students a dramatic and inviting entry to the school, built primarily of locally sourced wood and mass timber. Its double height glazing floods the common space in warm, natural light while giving views to the outside greenery. It also contains an adult literacy centre that serves the wider community.
Timber takes top marks
The facility’s abundant use of wood includes a post-and-beam structure, wall framing, roof decking, millwork as interior doors, and protective wall panels. An undulating nail-laminated timber (NLT) roof, made with two-by-fours and steel V-shaped king-posts, demonstrates the beauty and structural capacity of dimension lumber. Its prefabricated panels—much of the wood coming from forests affected by the mountain pine beetle—were built off-site, expediting construction and cutting the installation time by half. The roof offers the added benefit of passive ventilation, through windows at the peaks of each wave—improving comfort, energy efficiency and air quality.
We chose wood as the primary expressive material for this project, transforming it into an evocative architectural gesture that demonstrates the beauty and capacity of dimensional wood.
Robert Drew, Project Architect, Perkins and Will
Samuel Brighouse Elementary School in Richmond is a great showcase for the use of British Columbia wood in public buildings. The award-winning school opened three months earlier than scheduled and has a stunning design, welcomed by students and staff alike.
An undulating wood roof is the school’s signature architectural feature. Not only does it look fantastic, but it was prefabricated off site so shop and field construction could proceed concurrently. It also took half the time to cover the building than a roof built on site.
Locally harvested wood was the primary building material for Samuel Brighouse Elementary School. It was used for the post-and-beam structure, wall framing, roof decking, millwork as interior doors, and protective wall panels. One building was made entirely with wood, and the other has a timber-frame second storey above a concrete main floor structure.