Inspiring Students through Innovative Hardscaping Solutions

West Island College Montreal is a private, independent high school in Canada that houses both a French school and an English school in the same innovative facility.

In early 2020, they saw an opportunity to revitalize the open-air space in the heart of their campus and turn it into a functionally-chic courtyard where students could socialize and study. Contractor Matthew Elliott and his company Groupe North Stone were hired for this challenging renovation, and Elliott advocated for Techo-Bloc’s pavers to be used due to their character, quality, consistency and exceptional value.

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Design Meets Durability

During the initial planning stages for the courtyard, it became clear the hardscaping needed to not only be beautiful but also safe for the students and built to withstand the harsh Montreal winters.

The architect really focused on bringing new life to the space by both creating an inviting atmosphere students would be drawn to and adding in living elements that brought nature into the courtyard.

The planter boxes were designed with darker tones to really make the lush color of the grass and greenery pop in contrast, especially when reflected in the glass of the surrounding building. Complete with an outdoor dining area, the courtyard is now the perfect place for students to build community and feel inspired.

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West Island College wanted the courtyard to become an integral and much-loved part of the campus. It was designed not just as a fun hang-out spot but also as an outdoor classroom space where they could put on lectures, plays, concerts and other events as needed.

This meant the hardscaping needed to withstand a lot of traffic. It needed to be even and consistent to prevent trip hazards, and it could not afford to crack and ruin the quality of the design. The hardscaping also needed to withstand frequent cleaning to keep the upscale school's grounds in top condition. So quality concrete products were a must.

Montreal is known for its long, cold winters, so the pavers had to be built with their specific climate in mind. The hardscaping needed a material resistant to melting and refreezing. It also needed to be durable enough to tolerate deicing salts, so the students and facility didn’t risk slipping on ice.

Perfect Paving Solutions

It was actually contractor Matthew Elliott who first put forward Techo-Bloc’s pavers as a potential solution for the hardscaping. Elliott had worked with Techo-Bloc before on several projects and is a huge fan of their products.

Ultimately, the paving decision was left to the client, but they, too, fell instantly in love with Techo-Bloc’s products. They thought the pavers had the character they were looking for and knew the colors that Groupe North Stone suggested would stand out against the landscaping for a truly spectacular space.

Three different Techo-Bloc products were used for this project. The primary paver that covered a majority of the courtyard was Blu Smooth in Shale Grey, chosen for its distinctive character and eye-catching configuration. Elliott and his crew were very familiar with this product and were excited to work with it again. The installation process was quick and straightforward, and the varying-sized pavers meant minimal cuts were made on site.

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Raffinato Cap in Shale Grey and Raffinato Wall in Onyx Black were used to create the steps, amphitheater-style seating and planters. These were also easy to install due to their interlocking system. All the blocks were consistent in size, so the joints lined up perfectly with no issues. The colors were also provided the perfect contrast the architect was looking for to make the greenery of the landscape stand out.

The pavers were part of a permeable system, so there will never be a concern about pooling water, runoff issues or the threat of water flooding into the surrounding building. And because Techo-Bloc is also based in Montreal, their products are built to withstand the harshest winter conditions, with no concerns about using deicing solvent or cracking due to freezing water.

Installation Made Easy

The Groupe North Stone Crew ran into challenges with the location of the courtyard. It is completely surrounded by four walls, so all of their equipment needed to be craned in — and everything excavated needed to be craned out. This limited some of their machinery choices, but regardless, the crew encountered no issues installing Techo-Bloc’s products.

All products go through a rigorous quality control process to ensure that they meet Techo-Bloc’s strict dimensional tolerances: Any product that doesn’t pass the evaluation is immediately removed from the production line. This control procedure ensures that pavers easily fit together with no issues, speeding up the installation process. 

Elliott’s crew had to be finished with the project before the students were due back on campus — a tight timeline that they met due to their experience and product selections.

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Inspiring Innovation

The client loved the final product, and many have claimed the courtyard looks like something that would be found on a university campus, not at a local high school.

The students especially are thrilled with the new space. The combination of textures and paver sizes against the green grass makes the courtyard the perfect place to inspire creativity and encourage community.

Elliott said he recommends Techo-Bloc’s products to all hardscaping architects and contractors. He loves that they are a family-owned business always looking for ways to innovate within the industry. Techo-Bloc delivers quality products and exceptional service on every project.

Contact a Techo-Bloc representative today to learn more about their permeable paving solutions and get free engineering support

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