The Strawberry Vale School is located in a semi-rural community. The program includes 16 classrooms, a gymnasium, a library, and other spaces typical of an elementary school.
An important feature of the site is a Garry Oak woodland, a rare and threatened species of tree. The classrooms are arranged alongside the woodland, so that the woodland is preserved and its importance emphasized through visual connection. The classrooms are grouped in pods, which creates a series of in-between spaces, both interior and exterior, that support a wide variety of activities. In addition to responding to conventional programmatic requirements, the school gives architectural form to environmental forces. The hydrology of the site is carefully developed. Rainwater from the building is collected and discharged into a linear watercourse, where it is carried to a shallow marsh and naturally cleansed by the water plants.
Heating and lighting systems are designed, using computer modeling techniques, to optimize the use of solar energy: through passive heat gain, and, through the controlled placement of windows, clerestories, and skylights combined with reflective interior surfaces to distribute sunlight evenly throughout the interior spaces.
Materials for the building are selected to maximize environmental quality and minimize the amount of embodied energy. For this reason cladding’s have been kept to a minimum leaving much of the primary construction exposed.