The Lab-École schools’ designs unveiled

24.08.2020, Mon

6 innovative primary school projects across Quebec


Lab-École unveiled the architectural designs for the elementary schools to be expanded or built-in Gatineau, Maskinongé, Québec City, Saguenay, Shefford, and Rimouski. With the exception of the sketch for the Québec City school, which was produced by the Lab-École team, all of the winning designs stem from the “Imagining the Schools of Tomorrow, Together” architectural design competition launched by Lab-École. This was the first school building design competition to be held in Quebec in nearly 50 years. More than 160 proposals were received for the five school projects.


Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Lab-École made the decision in March to delay the public unveiling of the designs. It would like to once again congratulate the five winners:

  • Étienne Bernier Architecture (EBA) + APPAREIL Architecture + BGLA (Saguenay Lab-École school)

  • DMA Architectes (Gatineau Lab-École school)

  • Pelletier de Fontenay + Leclerc Architectes (Shefford Lab-École school)

  • L’ŒUF + Lapointe Magne & Associés (Rimouski Lab-École school)

  • Paquet-Taillefer + Leclerc Architectes (Maskinongé Lab-École school).

Photo credit: L’ŒUF et Lapointe Magne et Associés

“We felt that holding an architectural design competition was a logical way to keep up our innovative momentum. Competitions generate a wide variety of designs. They also help demonstrate Quebeckers’ immense creativity, which will be put in service of the educational sector. It was important for Lab-École to step off the beaten path and invite novelty. The impressive number of proposals we received also shows that Quebec architects want to contribute to these new living environments.”

—Pierre Thibault, architect and Lab-École co-founder


A new generation of schools that will form veritable living environments

Lab-École schools will be true living environments that are caring, open to nature, and their community. They will offer more space and more flexibility, which will help the students learn better, be more active, and eat better. They will also offer bright gathering spaces and inviting dining halls. Wider hallways will form “learning alleyways” that facilitate teaching practices adapted to the needs of today’s students. The architects carefully designed these models in keeping with the school stakeholders’ expectations, giving each square meter of invested space meaning and ensuring optimal use of all the spaces from morning to evening. The designs are based on general guidelines and vital elements (ref. Imagining the Schools of Tomorrow, 2019) stemming from two years of intensive research-creation, consultations and the mobilization of hundreds of key players (teachers, architects, researchers, citizens, parents, daycare service representatives, municipal elected officials, organizations and more). Lab-École carried out this work to pave the way for a new generation of schools designed to meet the current and future needs of the students and the school staff accompanying them.


“These schools will be a huge step forward. They are a far cry from the traditional two-storey boxes that currently exist. These are pavilion-style learning environments, with sloped roofs, more organic shapes, and other details. It’s a completely different approach. When the school stakeholders saw the designs, they were amazed that a school could look like that! They were deeply touched by the proposals submitted, imagining all the good they could bring the entire community.”

—Pierre Lavoie, athlete and Lab-École co-founder


“What has been presented today is not only Lab-École’s vision, but the vision of the school communities that took part in this approach. The winners were able to skillfully integrate Lab-École’s different cornerstones: physical environment, healthy and active lifestyle, and nutrition. To the Quebeckers who answered the call and to the community stakeholders, we can never thank you enough for your dedication and open-mindedness. We have the skills to build the world’s most beautiful schools and the designs presented today prove it.”

—Ricardo Larrivée, chef, entrepreneur and Lab-École co-founder


“We showed the importance we place on beautiful educational institutions by announcing the government’s vision of a new generation of schools. I applaud the quality of the work carried out by everyone who submitted a proposal and congratulate the finalists and winners. Our schools need to be inspiring and these projects have proven to be original and representative of the 21st century.”

—Jean-François Roberge, Quebec Minister of Education


The 5 school service centres (formerly school boards), the Western Quebec School Board, the winning architectural firms, and Lab-École have been hard at work concretizing the projects over the last few months. In spite of the unexpected advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, the work is going well. The first Lab-École schools should be opening their doors for the fall 2022 semester. Any questions about enrolling children in these schools, the cost of any of the projects, and their construction schedule must be addressed directly to the school service centre or school board concerned.

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