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Enchokay Birchstick School

Situated in the remote northwestern Ontario community of Pikangikum First Nation, Enchokay Birchstick School welcomes over 900 students each day with a state-of-the-art northern school design that reflects and celebrates Pikangikum’s rich traditions and unique cultural identity.

Following a design-build methodology with constructor Penn-Co Construction and a multidisciplinary team of consultants and skilled trades professionals, the project team worked hard to develop a design and construction plan that focused on creating optimal value for the community.

The design theme for Enchokay Birchstick School emphasises Pikangikum’s connection to land and nature, using the symbolism of a healthy, growing forest. The various zones are expressed through the façade treatment, incorporating forest-themed design elements reflective of the stage of the students’ lives as they progress on their journey of learning from childhood into adulthood.

The building’s exterior implements a variety of durable materials, colours and textures that break-up its massing into well-defined learning zones. The design also minimizes the building’s presence on the site, appearing from afar to blend naturally into the surrounding forest landscape. The school’s interior zones are distinguished using colour, patterning and unique wall murals painted by local artists that represent the various stages of growth.

The school was designed with an emphasis on sitelines that allow staff to easily monitor students and visitors throughout the interior and exterior of the building. A closed-circuit camera system serves as a deterrent to vandalism and assists with identifying unsafe activity. The building is also sectioned off to allow for community use after school hours.

Location: Pikangikum, ON
Number TEN Role: Design-Build Architect
Penn-Co Construction
Size: 99,448 sq. ft.
Completed: 2016