Kate Furbish Elementary School
A new elementary school in Brunswick will relieve overcrowding at several existing schools and allow for the addition of pre-kindergarten classrooms within the district. Responding to concerns about the large size of the student population, CHA Architecture developed a concept of two schools within a school, sharing core facilities. Architectural forms and color were used to reduce the scale of this assembly to help it fit within the surrounding residential neighborhood. Site circulation was reconsidered to promote student and campus safety.
A one-story pre-kindergarten wing near the administration office offers an intimate, safe area for the youngest students who are acclimating to public school and includes direct access to their own outdoor play space. The kindergarten, first, and second grades are broken into two “Houses,” each consisting of kindergarten and first grade classrooms on the ground floor and second grade classrooms on the second floor. Students will remain in their assigned House, to help create smaller communities within the otherwise large school. Diversified Arts (library, art, music, gym) and special support service classrooms are located along or just off one of two central corridors that run through the center of the school.
The wooded site inspired a forest trails theme that informs the interior spaces and wayfinding. The pre-K wing is inspired by acorns and pine cones, the fruit and seeds that sprout into coniferous or deciduous trees. House A takes inspiration from coniferous pine trees, with strong shades of green defining their common spaces; House B represents deciduous oak trees, using oranges throughout shared spaces.
The central corridor from the front to the back of the building is envisioned as a meadow’s edge trail, buffered by vertical green elements on the walls and embedded in the floor. This trail merges into a cross corridor outside of the shared cafeteria and gym, where wavy layers of blue elements evoke the experience of rippling water along a river’s edge trail.