Near Sherbrooke, Quebec, Montreal-based ARCHITEM Wolff Shapiro Kuskowski has recently completed the Mitchell Family House, a new and energy-efficient student housing complex for the Bishop’s College School. Built to house 270 students from 37 countries, the brick-clad dorm complements the century-old private boarding school’s existing architecture while raising the bar for sustainable design with its emphasis on energy efficiency. In addition to an airtight envelope, the residence taps into the campus’ central geothermal system and integrates sustainable stormwater management systems.
Completed in fall 2019, the Mitchell Family House is the campus’ eighth student residence and the first to combine housing and academic functions under one roof. The V-shaped building is organized into two wings that converge at a common central core. Nearly 300 students — between the ages of 12 and 17 — are housed within 18 two-person rooms on the upper floors. The two-story apartments that bookend the wings accommodate the “house parents” and their families. All rooms connect to central living spaces with a lounge and dining/kitchen area as well as study nooks on the mezzanine level.
Shared common areas are also abundant on the lower level, which is dedicated to academic activities. The entire floor opens up to an outdoor agora that embraces views of the surrounding forest and nearby river. Nature is brought indoors through tall, triple-glazed windows and the use of timber for interior surfaces. The exterior brick-and-concrete facade — sculptural precast concrete was used as a visual nod to the stone used on the campus heritage buildings — pay homage to the campus’ architectural vocabulary.
Because a major design goal was to minimize the building’s carbon footprint, the architects installed highly efficient mechanical systems, such as a heat recovery system, and prefabricated wall panels insulated from the outside to reduce energy loss. The residence is connected to the campus’ central geothermal system that has since been expanded with four new wells. In addition to implementing a stormwater management plan, landscape architects oversaw a “renaturalization” process to return native plantings to the site as soon as the building was completed.
Photography by Adrien Williams and Maxime Brouillet via ARCHITEM Wolff Shapiro Kuskowski