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Tatalu Elementary School

  • Client
    School District No. 36 (Surrey)
  • Location
    Surrey, BC
  • Completion


The new Ta’talu Elementary School has learning spaces for 575 grades 1 to 7 students and 80 kindergartens. It is the District’s first three-storey mass timber elementary school. The school’s name, which was gifted by the Semiahmoo First Nation, means Little Campbell River.

The school consists of two three-storey stacks of learning neighbourhoods that are made up of four to five classrooms that open onto a project space. All the shared program spaces – the learning commons, multi-purpose room, administration areas, and gym – are in the centre of the building, connected to the learning neighbourhoods by a central atrium. The atrium is the heart of the building, providing wayfinding for the entire school and visually connecting students on all floors.

Ta’talu was designed to be operationally net zero carbon. The team sought to reduce its environmental impact by using passive building design strategies, as well as reduce carbon emissions by minimizing the use of gas fueled equipment.

Although the school was not funded for mass timber, the School District and the design team wanted to explore the potential of this structural system as it matched the project’s sustainability ambitions and reduced embodied carbon in construction.