Terry White, Partner
Muskoka Falls is sited on a “backwards L” shaped site that fronts onto the Muskoka River, being its eastern boundary. The school is anchored on the site by a large rock outcrop from the Canadian Shield; this was turned into a fun play area for the kids. There are wonderful mature pine trees and long distance views. The site includes a downward sloping granite rock outcrop (a drop of 15 feet). Rather than see this as a drawback, we took advantage of this exciting feature. We knew we couldn’t do a standard two storey school so the lower floor is built into the rock and therefore has less space. The benefits of the view and to have the school shaped to the terrain outweigh any loss of space.
By placing the school close to the access road we saved money that we invested in the school building; there are no new roads or driveways. Our winters can be an emotional challenge and therefore we sited the school for maximum indirect light; all of the classrooms face north. The play field is north of the school and adjacent to the river; the access road, parking lot and school entrance are west of the school; the hallway runs west to east.
You don’t often get school sites as beautiful as this one. We prized the view of the river and therefore worked hard to site the school so there was great opportunity to see it throughout the day; to make it a feature.
We wanted to create a school environment that promoted health, both in body and mind. The daylight, access to outdoors and the long distance views of nature (river, trees, granite rocks) all serve that objective. The school’s classrooms, library, gym, administrative offices and even the hallway and staircase enjoy visual access to this setting.