Northlea Elementary

Tania Bortolotto, Alex Horber / Bortolotto

Northlea Elementary School

School Information
Northlea Elementary
Toronto District School Board
Toronto, Ontario

Grades: JK-8
Students: 803

Donna Quan

Gerri Gershon

Sophia DiSabatino, Architectural Coordinator

Kathleen Garner

David Ehrlich

Project Details

Project Description

Tania Bortolotto
Alex Horber

Tania Bortolotto, President

At Northlea Public School, we designed a roof-top addition comprising of three classrooms and locker room area to satisfy newly-legislated student-to-teacher ratios. This project occupies an existing roof-top patio on the second floor of an elementary school. The principal challenge in the design of the addition was to provide adequate natural lighting to three existing classrooms facing the roof-top as well as the new spaces. This was achieved by co-opting corridor space to act as a light well and the use of clerestories to filter sunlight into the new spaces and through to the existing.

While there was a very functional brief attached to this project in that we needed to find a way to add these classrooms to the existing school; but we also saw this as an opportunity to add further value by designing a school that addresses some of the key issues Boards face.  Educators prioritize academic success, but they also understand that this can only happen when they first ensure a child’s emotional well-being, the staff feel good and students can be calm, emotionally strong and ready to learn. We believe that this can be achieved, in part, by shaping a school environment that reduces stress and helps people feel settled and happy to be there. Through our experience working with and listening to the issues educators face, we understand that having calm, focused, and happy students and unstressed, positive teachers gives everyone the best chance at success.

We don’t want small, windowless classrooms. We want daylight, natural ventilation, calm acoustics, a sense of space, long views to the sky, trees, or a park instead of building concrete block boxes and extensive asphalt areas. We consider this to be a key objective for schools to connect their students’ experiences to the natural world while they’re at school. It will instil a sense of well-being and open them to their learning.

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