Saint-Bernardin School

This new elementary school is part of a residential neighbourhood that includes several circus institutions (TOHU, National Circus School), a CHSLD and Frédéric-Back Park.

A re-envisioned elementary school — With its open architecture, the new school consolidates the existing fabric by transforming a formerly abandoned site into a dynamic hub which improves community life.

The design of Saint-Bernardin Elementary School is centred around three pillars: educational success, sustainable development, and the arts. The pervasiveness of these three themes is reflected in the school’s architecture. Educational success is expressed through the integration of multipurpose spaces that can be transformed in accordance with whatever needs arise. Sustainable development is conveyed by an educational project emphasizing urban agriculture in a greened courtyard, carried out in collaboration with organizations dedicated to fighting against poverty and social exclusion. Finally, the arts are reflected by weaving the school into the aesthetics of the City of Circus Arts and by offering gymnasiums that are adapted to the circus discipline.



Civil Engineering



David Boyer





Other Collaborators

Decontamination, Health and Safety : EXP / Forestry : Nadeau Foresterie Urbaine






Centre de services scolaire de Montréal (CSSDM)

Surface Area

4,645 m²



A playful architecture

The school’s design is contemporary, playful, and joyful. The volumetric approach recalls building blocks games and the colours of a box of pencil crayons. The transparent first floor, where the spaces with extended use to the daycare service and the community are situated, contributes to animating the neighbourhood, as the vitality and dynamism of young users spill out onto the public square. The gymnasium slopes towards the public square. Surrounded by windows on three sides, the space gives students the impression of playing outside all year round. It is also a strong signalling element that announces the elementary school, while establishing a dialogue with the circus arts space on Jarry Street.

Encouraging academic success

Inside the school, niches punctuate the hallways. Of various sizes, they can be used for socialization in addition to concentration. Colourful insertions introduce further rhythm into the hallways, locker spaces, and classrooms, helping students to orient themselves in the space.

Behind the glazed transparency of the first floor walls, spaces flow into the daycare and communal areas, then further enliven the neighbourhood through the vitality of youth overflowing outside into the public place.

Integration into the urban fabric

The school’s neighbourhood includes some of the city’s most important circus arts institutions, including the TOHU and National Circus School. There is also a CHSLD and the major Frédéric-Back Park located nearby. By revitalizing a site that had been abandoned for a long time, the project serves to infuse the area with dynamism, reinforce the urban fabric, improve the quality of life of citizens, and strengthen the community’s sense of belonging.


Certification Or, Catégorie Bâtiment public/Bâtiment d'enseignement scolaire & préscolaire, Grands Prix du Design