Through the glass ceiling...

12 Mar 2014

Light-drenched entry point inserted into York House School by Acton Ostry Architects

The York House School in Vancouver has been graced with a new 36,000 sq ft entry point designed by Acton Ostry Architects, connecting the south, north and east wings of the existing school building with a light-filled circulation space. Established in 1932, the independent school for girls is located in a residential neighbourhood in Vancouver, British Columbia. 

The design by Acton Ostry Architects provides the institution with a clear presence in the community, drawing on the ethos of the school and translating it into subtle architectural gestures.

For example, York House encourages a sense of leadership, community and environmental stewardship in its students, therefore Acton Ostry Architects has created a number of areas that bring students and teachers together for informal interactions, inscribed the threshold with the school motto ‘Not for Ourselves Alone’ and added sustainable measures such as solar shading.

These solar shading devices also establish a bold profile for the school on the streetfront, their wood-finished vertical forms acting both functionally and aesthetically in the school’s favour. At the third storey, the west-facing entry elevation is stepped back to create a generous balcony for use by the students while reducing the apparent scale of the volume.

York House has been completed using a tonal palette of textured concrete, wood, glass and stone, with occasional punches of colour provided by glass panels in blue and green tones. Natural daylighting has been used in the circulation areas through the integration of skylights, further reducing the energy demands of the building.

Students of the school were invited to select the names of famous women to be screen-printed onto glass guards that delineate the circulation routes in the central atrium as part of a donor recognition programme. Alongside the connective spaces, the new addition includes classrooms, administrative and service spaces, social locker zones and lounge areas for students in grades eight to twelve.

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