The Kipohtakaw Education Centre is located on the Alexander First Nation Reserve, approximately forty kilometres northwest of Edmonton. With the original school constructed in 1992, the Nation, along with the support of Indigenous Services Canada, determined the need for some essential upgrades to create the most ideal learning environment for its current and future student population and the surrounding community.
During our community engagement session, our team, together with the School Design Committee, collectively established our vision for the modernization and addition of Alexander School. The reimagined Kipohtakaw Education Centre will encourage openness, collaboration, and critical thinking for students through healthy, thoughtful, and innovative learning environments. With a cultural emphasis on Cree teachings and an integration of land-based learning, the school will be sustainable, holistic, and serving both the Nation’s youngest generations and the community at large.
The project moves the school towards a 21st Century Learning framework while respecting the Cree cultural influences that guide the existing school. Working with a number of constraints presented both by the budget as well as the existing building, our design draws on local site and cultural conditions as well as patterns discerned from community engagement workshops: the design orients the school from east to west, creating clear sight lines and maximizing solar gain, transparency, and a sense of openness and integration with the outdoors.