This school concept beautifully illustrates how the Arctic’s extreme climate can be a generator of great design rather than an obstacle to it. Clad in charred cedar, the 1,800-square-metre ensemble of formal and informal educational spaces, including classrooms and an indoor basketball court, is imagined as a series of spatial layers, or thresholds, connected to the landscape. Inspired by the seasonal cycle of the Athabascan people, who would fish and trap in the warmer months and settle down in winter, the school accommodates a new Yukon-Koyukuk School District curriculum that encourages students to proactively engage with the outdoors. While the interior spaces exude warmth (with buried-earth walls, reinforced rammed-earth bricks and black spruce floors) the outdoor zones emphasize play and discovery through an edible-berry fence, play caches and – most impressive of all – an open-air entrance with a firewood storage wall, a central fireplace and drying salmon hung from the ceiling.
Project: Thermal Threshold: Education and Play in the Arctic Location: Minto, Alaska, USA School: University of Virginia, USA
Team:Anna Morrison, YinYu Fong and Katie Kelly