Lab-École unveils architectural designs for elementary schools

Lab-École has unveiled the architectural designs for five elementary schools to be expanded or built in Gatineau, Maskinongé, Québec City, Saguenay, Shefford, and Rimouski.

Quebec – Interior view Photo credit: Lab-École

With the exception of the concept for the Québec City school, which was produced by the Lab-École team, all of the winning designs stem from the “Imagining the Schools of Tomorrow, Together” architectural design competition.

This was the first school building design competition to be held in Quebec in nearly 50 years. The five winners include: Étienne Bernier Architecture (EBA) + APPAREIL Architecture + BGLA (Saguenay Lab-École school); DMA Architectes (Gatineau Lab-École school); Pelletier de Fontenay + Leclerc Architectes (Shefford Lab-École school), L’ŒUF + Lapointe Magne & Associés (Rimouski Lab-École school); and Paquet-Taillefer + Leclerc Architectes (Maskinongé Lab-École school).

Shefford – Interior view Photo credit: Pelletier de Fontenay et Leclerc architectes

“We felt that holding an architectural design competition was a logical way to keep up our innovative momentum. Competitions generate a wide variety of designs. They also help demonstrate Quebecers’ immense creativity, which will be put in service of the educational sector. It was important for Lab-École to step off the beaten path and invite novelty. The impressive number of proposals we received also shows that Quebec architects want to contribute to these new living environments,” said Pierre Thibault, architect and Lab-École co-founder.

Lab-École schools will offer more space and more flexibility, as well as bright gathering spaces and inviting dining halls. Wider hallways will form “learning alleyways” that facilitate teaching practices adapted to the needs of today’s students.

The architects carefully designed these models in keeping with the school stakeholders’ expectations, investing each square meter of space with meaning and ensuring optimal use of all the spaces from morning to evening.

The designs are based on general guidelines and key elements stemming from two years of intensive research-creation, consultations and the mobilization of hundreds of key players, including teachers, architects, researchers, citizens, parents, daycare service representatives, municipal elected officials, organizations and more.

Lab-École carried out this work to pave the way for a new generation of schools designed to meet the current and future needs of the students and the school staff accompanying them.

“These schools will be a huge step forward. They are a far cry from the traditional two-storey boxes that currently exist. These are pavilion-style learning environments, with sloped roofs, more organic shapes, and other details. It’s a completely different approach. When the school stakeholders saw the designs, they were amazed that a school could look like that! They were deeply touched by the proposals submitted, imagining all the good they could bring the entire community,” said Pierre Lavoie, athlete and Lab-École co-founder.

In spite of the unexpected advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, the winning architectural firms and Lab-École have been hard at work concretizing the projects over the last few months.

The first Lab-École schools are slated to open their doors for the fall 2022 semester.