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École Au-Coeur-De-Lîle

Type: Public

Date: 2011

Location: Comox, BC

Firm: McFarland Marceau Architects

École Au-Coeur-De-Lîle is a new K-12 school in Comox BC. The building design is designed to both provide a state-of-the art learning environment for children aged 4-18, and function as a hub for the local francophone community. Literally the school of the “heart of the island”, provides customized spaces for a range of age groups. Courtyard spaces are used to separate the various age groups and bring daylight into the facility. The courtyards also function as multi-function activity zones for the school. Classrooms are clustered around common areas instead of traditional corridors. The teaching spaces are designed using 21-century design principles that encourage learning from a variety of “modalities.”

  • All classrooms contain a window nook for individual learning opportunities.
  • Project rooms are shared between 2 classrooms to provide a flexible place for small group activities.
  • Movable cubbies are used to define enhanced corridor spaces.
  • Movable acoustic partitions between classrooms allow for team-teaching opportunities.
  • White-board surfaces are integrated into walls, millwork and movable cubbies to allow for teaching opportunities in all locations.

The project also used an innovative, cost effective construction method:

  • Concrete block load bearing walls provide thermal mass and durability
  • Solid timber construction for roof and interior project rooms and nooks
  • Exterior insulation and clip system with low maintenance metal tiles.

In addition, other key design features are:

  • Daylight focused design to create a healthy indoor environment.
  • Grand exterior stairs, provide direct exterior access for each classroom cluster, as well as a place for outdoor teaching and gatherings.
  • Gymnasium with full-height glass wall opening north, onto the forest. This feature creates both a fantastic gymnasium space, and encourages other uses including community gatherings, concerts and dances.


Completed with previous firm, McFarland Marceau Architects Ltd., Vancouver BC. Jesse Garlick was the project architect during design and construction. He began working on the project after programming and schematic design was complete.


Masonry Design Award,
Wood Design Award, institutional project,
Wood Design Award, institutional project
INSEA lighting design award