Allen Jack+Cottier make a playful approach to primary school design
Michael Heenan, principal of Allen Jack+Cottier Architects, has delivered an instinctive, organic design to create a stimulating school building for the international Grammar School, Sydney. The accommodation consists of an arts and crafts facility, a library, staff offices and an indoor sports hall. The roof is to become an outdoor playground shaded by an array of photovoltaic cells. This represents an enormous achievement for the limited budget. The glazed amorphous openings appear like perfectly formed droplets of water on the surface of the building.
"Contrasting the mass and weight of concrete with glass and its absolute precision, beautiful reflective qualities and ability to change its energy ratings and U values is something I am most interested in" says Heenan. The method for attaching the window glass to the outer walls aimed to create the illusion of there being no glass present. It appears as if the architects have simply punched holes in the concrete, especially from inside. The windows use the latest e-glass technology to maintain a high level of insulation. The fully glazed panels were transported to site and each floor was erected in 3.5 hours. The architects believe this is the first time anywhere that VHB structural glazing tape has been used in this way to stick the glass to a building.
This mixed-mode building is incredibly energy efficient. Thermodynamic analysis led to a cruciform system of natural ventilation which can be altered to react to the prevailing winds. Embedded in the precast composite panels is 50mm of high-density polystyrene with a 65mm outer skin and a 165mm inner skin of structural concrete; perfect to retain heat or coolth after a night purge. Photovoltaics supply power; all water is collected and reused.
The building was designed for primary school children. There should be a joy and excitement about discovery and learning at that age which is deliberately reflected in the form and feel of the building. It kindles a child-like response and is deeply embedded in its place.