Accutech Engineering Inc. was retained by the Government of Nunavut as the Prime Consultant for the design and development of the John Arnalukjuak School, located in Arviat, Nunavut. Arviat is an Inuit community, having the second largest population in Nunavut. There are no roads connecting Arviat to Southern Canada, or any other community in Nunavut. All access into Arviat is either by air or by summer sealift.
The John Arnalukjuak School project involved the development of a new 5000 square metre Senior School building. The project was developed by the Government of Nunavut to address the needs and concerns of the community facing continued growth in the student population and overcrowding in its existing schools. The new senior school would help to relieve the pressures on these existing facilities and provide space for future growth.
The building features a large, open two-storey meeting and community gathering space called a ‘Kiva,’ and a multi-media development centre. The school also contains 15 standard classrooms, a language classroom, music and drama room, business/computer room, art, science, physics, CTS trades and CTS studies rooms, a library, gymnasium with stage, kitchen area and administration and support spaces.
Accutech Engineering, along with its architectural sub-consultant, Number Ten Architectural Group, had to overcome several design and logistical challenges and utilized a number of highly innovative techniques, in the planning, design and construction of the building including:
considerations for the design and orientation of the building to maximize daylight (the community experiences upwards of 20 hours of darkness during the winter months);
reduction of snow drifting around the new school and potential effects on existing surrounding buildings;
incorporation of numerous Inuit themes, colours and ‘traditional knowledge’ principles in every facet of the building form and function;
construction of the building foundations on the existing permafrost soils, including the use of thermosyphons to mitigate degradation of the frozen ground;
optimization of the construction schedule and building envelope through the use of pre-fabricated structural insulated panels (SIPs) for the exterior walls (the largest project in Nunavut to utilize SIP technology);
design of the mechanical and electrical systems to allow the building to be self-sufficient with its own emergency water, sewage and fire water storage and electrical power generation;
and inclusion of the local Inuit in almost every aspect in the construction of the building under the direct supervision of the general contractor. This provided the local Inuit with valuable training in building construction as well as giving them a sense of pride by helping to build the community's infrastructure.
The overall project schedule from design through to substantial completion required approximately three years to complete.Accutech Engineering utilized a highly-integrated team of designers and construction administrators throughout the project, resulting in a superbly designed and coordinated building system that exceeded the client's and end user’s expectations, and resulted in a building that is considered a benchmark of educational facilities in the Arctic.