The School as a Cultural Learning Tool

Room: D135-136

Audience: Designer, Educators and Stakeholders

Call to Action: 

  1. Learn how to engage in productive collaboration to uncover the unique cultural characteristics of students and staff.
  2. Planners, designers, educators, and facilities personnel will walk away with practical examples of ways to translate abstract ideas to physical realities.
  3. Determine how to customize a school without adding cost to the project.

Abstract: “If you don’t tell your children who and what they are, they won’t know. How can they be proud of what they don’t know?” This insight, shared by a Salish Elder from Diversity in the Classroom publication, speaks to the importance of cultural education in the development of a child. This presentation shows how our schools can act as an intentional display of the culture of its students. As part of our design responsibility to our students, we actively orient, research, engage, and interpret in order to accurately reflect the ideals, values, and way of life of our students. In addition to sharing the engagement process, different design solutions will be shared to see how both material and non-material make-up of a particular cultural group can be manifested through program, space, scale, and material. Part of our role is reinterpreting traditional elements, such as patterns, icons, and ornaments, and reflecting culture in a modern visual identity, preserving memories that threaten erasures and illuminating new possibilities. Looking through the lens of various projects serving Metis Communities, Dakota Nation Communities, French Communities, Catholic Communities, and Multi-National Neighbourhoods, we will unveil the process that was undertaken to orient and immerse ourselves in new cultures to move away from ubiquity to provide unique solutions within the framework of the physical, time, and budgetary constraints of the project. Through the collaboration of landscape architects, architects, interior designers, educators, and facilities personnel, we can create schools that become an extension of culture. When children have the opportunity to see, learn, and know who they are and where they come from, a sense of pride, ownership, and commitment back to their community can be fostered and our nation’s rich tapestry of cultures can flourish.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Define what culture is and why it is important.
  2. Discover new methods of engagement to uncover unique cultural characteristics.
  3. Determine how to interpret research and engagement into physical manifestations in a school building.
  4. Determine how to approach space planning, programming, scale, and materials by looking through the lens of various projects serving Metis Communities, Dakota Nation Communities, French Communities, Catholic Communities, and Multi-National Neighbourhoods.
Souk Xoumphonphackdy, MAA, OAA, AAA
Souk Xoumphonphackdy, MAA, OAA, AAA 
Senior Associate, Architect, Stantec Architecture

Souk is an architect who has been involved with several community impact, Education, Healthcare, Recreation and First Nations’ Projects. He is committed to the integrated design process to transform community needs into innovative high quality architectural spaces with a positive identity. He is always striving to achieve design excellence through the right balance of narratives, architectural features, functionality and program flexibility. Souk has 13+ years of experience in various areas of the project delivery process, from schematic design conception to the fully constructed building.

Core Competency

Design of Educational Facilities
Acts as a resource to the design team in providing ongoing guidance and support to ensure that the emerging and ultimate design aligns with the established community vision, education goals, future programming, written design standards, best/next practices and education policy.

LearningSCAPES 2024 Conference in Portland, Oregon


Oregon Convention Center
777 NE Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd, Portland, OR 97232


October 16-19, 2024


+1 480.391.0840