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The village of Waswanipi is located in northern Quebec, west of Chibougamau. In this Cree community, where nearly half the population is under 20 years old, the need for a new elementary school was becoming urgent. The program submitted to the architects included 12 classrooms to accommodate up to 300 pupils, a language laboratory, a computer laboratory, a library and a gym. Also planned were administrative facilities, a teachers’ room and a multipurpose room where Cree community activities could be held.

In developing the concept, the architects sought to evoke the traditional values of the Cree community, such as respect for the land and the people living on it. The elongated shape of the building recalls the body of a sleeping fox. On the north side, the spine protects the building from cold winds while, on the south side, the flanks of the animal are exposed to the sun’s warmth.

Flexibility was central to the program submitted to the architects. The classrooms open onto corridors that are wide enough for tables to be added when necessary. The lobby looks over an agora from which the playground is reached. The agora, where platforms are installed, can be converted into a mini-auditorium, a gathering place, a classroom or a place for children to relax.

  • Client: Cree School Board
  • Area: N/A
  • Cost of Construction: $7.2M
  • Year of Construction: 2007
  • Team Members:

Stephen Rotman

Pascale Tétrault

  • General Contractor: Cree Construction and Development Company (CCDC)


Photos: Stéphane Brügger