Located in the Village of Anmore, the Eagle Mountain Middle School is nestled in the base of the mountains within an idyllic community, which has managed to maintain its semi-rural, natural environment. Bordered by parkland, old growth forests, and lakes, the placement of the building on a former landfill site takes full advantage of its natural surroundings. These links with nature also play a critical role in the education of its students through carefully considered light-filled spaces, which seamlessly integrate into the neighbouring landscape.
Reflecting the middle school curriculum goals for socialization, exploration and the way in which children discover, learn about, and interpret our world, the school focuses on education through interaction. Rather than approach education from the standpoint of ‘teaching’, the school encourages ‘learning’ for its students and this is reflected in our design. In much the same manner, our approach was the result of discovery and interpretation of data to develop a three-level design solution that provides a learning-based environment conceived through the eyes of the students.
Featuring a steeply sloped three-level tiered design, the main classrooms, and media centre are arranged around an elevated central courtyard, which has been set one storey above the gymnasium and exploration level. The common courtyard is a space for exploration where students discover and interpret lessons learned from the classroom through direct and hands-on application. The lower level support spaces and gymnasium, the intermediate level healthy living area and shops, and the upper level classrooms and courtyard, are all connected by a stepped central hall that acts as a primary gathering space, forming the heart of the school.
Through thoughtful experiences within its spaces, the school inspires teachers, staff, and visitors alike. Special design emphasis was put on evolving the classroom pods, the informal breakout spaces in the corridors, and the healthy living (art/foods/textiles) space. The building also includes an infant/child care centre, and a flexible gymnasium and multi-purpose hall, which are shared between the school and the community.