Muskoka Falls Elementary

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Terry White, Tom Wilson / + VG Architects

Muskoka Falls Elementary

We placed the seven classrooms on the north side for maximum indirect light, an important healthy addition for students and teachers.

Terry White, Partner

Muskoka Falls is a relatively small school with two levels. It’s built on a descending rock outcrop, making the lower level half the size of the upper level. The rock cascades down the site toward the river so, to maximize the experience, on the east, the Staircase is built entirely of glass. The feeling is one of joy and playfulness; as students use the staircase they feel like they are outside climbing the rock.

We placed the seven classrooms on the north side for maximum indirect light, an important healthy addition for the students and teachers. The four classrooms on the lower level and three on the upper level look onto the playfield, enabling the young students to orient themselves and bringing calmness to their day.

We put the library on the east side. You are on top of the rock looking out over the river. Normally we would put the library at the front door for easier public access during off-hours, but the benefit of overlooking the river with the great pine is unparalleled

To the west, the entrance, we placed daycare, kindergarten and the administration. The south is predominantly the closed wall of the gym. There is a central Hallway on both levels that connects to the east Staircase; all of the rooms run off from this Hallway. The Staircase infuses the Hallway with lots of daylight and it allows for vertical circulation between the first and second floors.

We think of school in its entirety; as being organic. We consider the circulation of the students and how to leverage this site’s unique views from the spaces where they will have the most impact.