The Machias Elementary School, designed by NAC Architecture, located in Snohomish, United States, on sits a rural site the Pilchuck River vd in alley, north of Seattle, WA. Our goal was to replace the existing elementary school with a new school that connects with the community’s agricultural roots through an exploration and expression of their rural identity.
The rural identity explored in the design found expression through the following values:
A connection to the land: The school is orientated with all classroom neighbourhoods facing the woods to the north. The open playfield in front of the school follows the historic rural development patterns in which the farmhouse is located behind the fields.
Frugality, the use of materials at hand: Curved beams salvaged from the original school are reused as arching columns, generating a curvilinear form reminiscent of your grandfather’s barn. This curving and arching form links the historical past to the present, while also connecting the wings of the school. The library, the interdisciplinary learning lab, and resource classroom all reside within the free-flowing core. As students move about the school they are constantly in contact with these communal learning spaces.
Self sufficiency and independence: A super-insulated building envelope with triple glazed windows and spray foam wall insulation, ground loop heat exchangers, and a 100Kw photovoltaic array estimated to generate enough electricity for approximately 18% of the building’s energy needs are constitute a significant start towards energy independence. No fossil fuels are consumed in the operation of a building estimated to use require only 17 Kbtu/sq ft/year.