Completion: 2012
Owner: North Vancouver School District
LEED Platinum
Award Winning

Environmental Learning Centre

Brackendale, BC

Set in a lush river valley in the Coast Mountains of British Columbia, Cheakamus Centre (formerly known as the North Vancouver Outdoor School) offers outdoor environmental and indigenous learning programs in a rich rainforest environment that includes significant stands of old growth forest, large concentrations of wintering bald eagles, wild salmon streams and amphibian ponds. The Environmental Learning Facility lies at the heart of Cheakamus Centre, providing a gateway and a critical context for learning.

To minimize site disturbance and the potential impact of flooding, the Environmental Learning Facility takes on a narrow linear form, slotted between existing mature trees and is raised on columns above the flood plain of the nearby Cheakamus River. The elevated building provides views directly into the rainforest canopy, and creates generous, covered outdoor instruction space beneath the structure.

The raised main floor of the facility includes a welcoming area and exhibition space, a large dining hall equipped with a commercial kitchen, two multi-purpose learning spaces, and administrative offices. The building is constructed with a combination of salvaged wood and mass timber, supported on slender steel columns and anchored by two concrete pods, which house a rainwater collection cistern, mechanical space and washrooms.

Photos: Michael Elkan

Related work: Featured recreational Schools Wood Innovation