St. Augustine School by Acton Ostry

What can be the best part about going to school? For me it was the Games period and for you, it might be the library. But for some the best part of being in school is to read the inspirational quotes on the walls, especially on brick walls that have been restructured into an architectural framework that is high on a mixture of tradition and modernism. Acton Ostry has done so with St. Augustine school. After all, what could be more interesting than restructuring a school in a way that would roll heads.


St. Augustine School- North elevation
Courtesy- Acton Ostry Architects

More than hundred years ago, The Oblates of Mary Immaculate founded St. Augustine School. It was a time when the school shared the requisite space with St. Augustine Church. Earlier located in the Kitsilano neighbourhood of Vancouver, the place was nothing more than a dome with three-storey space with a brick building. It was in the year 1951 that the original school was destroyed. Instead of a proper school, it was replaced with a single-storey, wood-frame construction. Now Sixty-four years later, it has been restructured into a magnificent building (that you can see in the picture above) by Acton Ostry.

About Acton Ostry Architects

Acton Ostry architects are a leading design Canadian firm that are highly renowned for their eloquent and creatively elegant architectural designs specially in cases of public institutions, family residential and community buildings. They started in 1992 and with time have influenced firms around the world with their commitment to create architectures that respond to the social, economic, historical and environmental conditions and concerns of the buildings. So if you have to construct a building then they are the people for you!

St. Augustine School

St. Augustine School has been incorporated with new technologies and advanced materials have been used by  Acton Ostry to renovate the building. You will definitely notice that the School is an example of highly controlled and refined architecture that is about expression of ideas which are strong, expressive and simple in its form.

St. Augustine School consists of three-storey in a space of 4,200 square metres. The red brick building has a capacity of more than 300 students. There is a child care facility and has around fifteen classrooms, a common room, space for new gymnasium and other multi-purpose rooms. 

Brick Masonry

Brick Masonry
Courtesy- Acton Ostry Architects

If you see for yourself ,you will find that the structural background of the brick masonry can be historically linked to the existing St. Augustine Church and Parish that is situated one block to the east. Acton Ostry have symbolically conveyed and paid their homage to the original church and school building with their acumen. You can feel the vicariousness of the works of Alvar Aalto, the famous architect that has inspired the masonry finish. It consists of a beautiful collage comprising of three shades of red brick in varying patterns. Acton Ostry architects have worked intensely upon the window opening details. You can see the incised and deep cuts that ornate the brick sills and the traditional brick-faced slopping sills.

Main entrance

Main entrance with Totem
Courtesy- Acton Ostry Architects

Usually it is said that the face of a school is its entrance and at St. Augustine school, folding steel canopies have been used in the main entrance. These canopies supported by cruciform shaped columns are also present in the child care centre. These cruciform patterns especially on the bricks are a modest stamp on the building as being a Catholic Institution and this has been widely recognized by the families in the nearby neighbourhood. It is the cruciform columns that support the architecture and keep it in a sturdy position.

A totem has been hung near the entrance which is an attractive prospect for the students and staff. Totem is a spirit being, or a symbol that serves as an emblem for a family, clan, tribe and lineage.  It is another symbolical reference to the base upon which St. Augustine school has been reconstructed. A strong base wherein one has to be modern in approach but still keep the traditional and basic structure of the school intact. For it is the ethics and morals upon which characters are built!

School interior

On entering you would see that the interior of the school is laden with golden coloured maple panelling. The floors are light bluish and are inspired by the famous painting of Mary crushing a serpent. It nourishes the environment with a subtle but strong emotion.

Snake stairs

Snake stairs
Courtesy- Acton Ostry Architects

There are snake stairs present to the outside of the two south facing towers via which you can see the small children stomping the serpent. A symbol of youthful playfulness! Handles have been provided on both sides of the staircase, so that children could take their help and not get hurt in the process that usually happens.

Blue-coloured glass

Your eyes would sparkle while watching the blue-coloured glass that glazes the place. The glass represents the hope and healthiness of St. Augustine Church. The entire architecture especially the main entrance to the school, the gateway to the outer grounds and the high positioned window at the corner site are all inspired from the neighbourhood situated St. Augustine Church.


Courtesy- Acton Ostry Architects

If you love books then St. Augustine School by Acton Ostry has a credible library with windows via which enough sunlight floods in so that children can study easily. The seating arrangements and the structure have been built so as to ensure a smooth and subtle environment for reading and learning.


Courtesy- Acton Ostry Architects

If you enter the classroom, there you will find a great lighting system. A whiteboard has been provided for children to have an interactive bent of mind. The floor has a smooth structure and shelf space has been provided inside the room for children to keep their bags and books safe and in sight.

School Playground

School Playground
Courtesy- Acton Ostry Architects

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy! Well, the proverb has set the tone for the St. Augustine school playground that is full of slides and swings. It is where the children gather to have fun and enjoy those moments of childhood that they would remember in future. The slides have been built on a high platform that has been covered by sand.

Day care centre

Day care Centre
Courtesy- Acton Ostry Architects

A school not only should work upon improving a child’s mental prowess but also it need to work upon the analytical and reasoning ability of a child which is provided in the day care centre. Puzzles, drawing materials, Legos and other toys are given that are sure to develop the creative and analytical ability of a child for future endeavours.


Side view of St. Augustine School
Courtesy- Acton Ostry Architects

Acton Ostry Architects won the 2015 Masonry Institute of British Columbia Award of Excellence for their work on the construction of St. Augustine School.

If you are interested in Acton Ostry Architect works then St. Augustine School by Acton Ostry is a commendable effort by the architectural firm that with years has changed the face of public and private institutions around the states and developed their own way of architectural design that is unique and scintillating in approach.

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