The Maine Coast Waldorf School requested a building that fosters creativity, inspires curiosity, demonstrates environmental stewardship, and honors the learning spirit within its occupants. Located on a pastoral property consisting of over seventy acres in Freeport Maine, the new high school building completes the campus by bringing students together from grades K through 12. The new 11,400 square foot building, built for 80 students, includes five flexible classrooms, a student center, conference and meeting rooms, faculty offices and a great room that can be used for movement, education and morning meetings.
The high school building occupies what was a sloping meadow north of the existing campus, separated by an entry drive and a row of trees. It is located facing south for good passive solar design and it is orientated with a view and a curving path that connects to the existing campus beyond, while also providing a sense of privacy from the younger students. A separate drop off and parking area was also provided.
The building design reflects the Waldorf principles for flexibility, abundant natural night, use of color, natural materials and anthroposophic design – creating organic expressionistic designs that cultivate a sensory experience. The simple volumes have been articulated to create visual interest, views, shading and improved natural lighting. The bend in the building reduces the length of the common corridors and defines a central place for lockers and spontaneous conversation. The timber framed portico adds shade and protection from the elements while creating and exterior room for teaching, eating and conversing; and the dormers on the roof bring natural light into the center of the building.
Energy conservation and sustainable design were essential components of the new high school. This project reached beyond the goal for net zero energy demand to pursue the highest energy standard available and to become the nation’s first high school to receive passive house certification. In addition to PHIUS + 2015 certification (Passive House Institute US), the new building has received Maine Advanced Buildings certification from Efficiency Maine, certifying that the building is at least 30% more energy efficient than Maine’s minimum energy code requirements. We achieved this through passive solar design, robust building envelopes, efficient HVAC systems, daylighting controls and shading.
The building envelope (wall and roof assemblies) uses dimensional and engineered wood lumber with dense-packed cellulose and 4” of rigid insulation was used on the exterior walls. The typical wall assembly has an R-value of 51.6 and the typical roof assembly has an R-value of 55.0. Triple-glazed windows and exterior doors were used through-out in addition to sophisticated building membranes and tapes to control the ingress of moisture from the outside and to prevent interior moisture from migrating into exterior walls. Ductless mini-splits were used for heating and cooling and Energy Recovery ventilators (ERV’s) were installed to provide continuous fresh air. The building envelope and building systems were modeled using WUFI energy modelling software and the building was blower door tested twice, with a result of 0.040 CFM50/shell area.