News / Canada

Metro Cities: With downtown populations booming, planners consider new model for schools

As students head back to class, Metro takes a look at how cities around the world are implementing highrise schools.

Though it’s midrise, Vancouver’s Crosstown Elementary could offer a model for larger projects. It boasts a rooftop garden with benches and a stage.

Wanyee Li / Metro Order this photo

Though it’s midrise, Vancouver’s Crosstown Elementary could offer a model for larger projects. It boasts a rooftop garden with benches and a stage.

In tower-filled cities like Singapore and New York, putting a school in a highrise, alongside offices and residents, is a no-brainer. With downtown populations booming in Canadian cities and more and more families living in condos, planners here are considering new models.

Learn more about the modern urban school:

PLAY: With space at a premium, many highrise schools put sports fields and other recreation facilities on the roof. Though it’s midrise, Vancouver’s Crosstown Elementary could offer a model for larger projects. It boasts a rooftop garden with benches and a stage. Recess takes place at a nearby public park which was recently equipped with a revamped playground.

BUILD: Finding land to accommodate schools amid dense, bustling populations can be a challenge. Getting creative, the Vancouver board parked Crosstown atop an underground parking lot, buying the air rights, and tucked the building into the pillar of a residential condo. Toronto’s school board is considering setting up in towers, a first for the board, which until now has owned the land where schools sit.

MOVE: Especially for younger children, stairs can be a time-consuming challenge. Add to that the time to get kindergarteners in their snowsuits and it’s clear designers need to include simpler ways to move around stacked schools, such as ramps — and lots of them.

LEARN: Five highrise schools are planned for Sydney, Australia over the next few years. One such school will tinker with the concept of dividing students by grades and into classrooms, opting for more open-air spaces and opportunities to blend students of different age groups. Part of the plan is colour-coded common areas with modular furniture, allowing students to adapt the space to their needs.

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