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Project of the Week – Victoria Linklater Memorial School

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Architect: Victor Kolynchuk – Architecture49 Inc.
Location: North Spirit Lake, Ontario
Photo: Gerry Kopelow Photographics Inc.

Every school’s got a hot spot where the cool kids like to hang out. Usually, it’s a partially concealed nook where teachers rarely venture. But at Victoria Linklater Memorial School, it’s by the front doors… of all places. And that’s no accident. As Victor Kolynchuk of Architecture49 Inc. explains it, that was all part of the plan.

“I have always believed in spending extra care and budget at the entrance of the school where students enter, get impressions, and give it the most wear and tear,” says Kolynchuk. “In this case, the broad sweep of forms clad in Western Red Cedar at the entrance provides a striking image especially with full sun and shadows.”

In addition to drawing in kids through an inspired entryway, Kolynchuk’s other goal was to draw on forms and folklore surrounding the First Nations site. Most notable being the legend of Maymayquayshwak, a half-man/half-fish spirit reported to be dwelling along the cliffs of North Spirit Lake.

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“We wanted to help create a positive identity for students through associations with local culture and place,” says the award-winning architect. “Cliff and forest imagery was used both inside and out. Western Red Cedar cladding was selected for the outside of the school to display the irregular forms with warmth and beauty, using a familiar material.”

For this application, Kolynchuk chose a knotty grade of cedar. He did so for a number of reasons including cost and material compatibility.

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“While Western Red Cedar was the star, we also used black acrylic stucco to suggest cliff imagery along with silver metallic roofing and trim,” he says, adding, “The beauty of natural wood was complemented and enhanced by how we used these colors in relation to each other.”

And he’s not the only who thinks so.

“Everyone who has seen this project,” says Kolynchuk, “is struck by how the natural beauty of Western Red Cedar and architecture have come together on this project.”

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