Education | Western Canada

Ne Sah Soh Is Koh Dahn New School

O'Chiese First Nation, Alberta

This school is located in a new development for the O’Chiese First Nation on a previously heavily forested site. The school is the cornerstone of large-scale future development including roadways, civil works and housing and will spur further planned growth.

While a literal iconic form was not desired for the school design, the school focus is a round multi-purpose room which faces south and will be used for music, drumming and ceremonies including smudging. The building is set on the crest of a hill and embraces this special room while overlooking playfields to the south.

The community felt strongly that the building should be durable and of high quality. Split face masonry is used as a cladding to the exterior, striated in fragmented horizontal bands in three colours echoing the geological strata of the local siltstone of the school site. Colours of the local pow wow, and ground vegetation during fall were used to inspire the interior colour scheme.

The school is arranged in three parts with elementary and senior wings flanking a central community-use area including the gymnasium, library, cafeteria and multi-purpose room. The cafeteria is the major point of reference upon entry to the facility. It has natural light from multiple directions, views over playfields to the south, a full commercial kitchen and is intended to provide alternative opportunities for students to study and socialize.