Aedas designs shaded spaces for an exclusive through school
In October 2010 Aedas were asked to prepare design proposals for a Royal Academy to be sited on the southern coast of Abu Dhabi Island. The brief was relatively open in terms of the Academy’s requirements, with the team simply being asked to provide designs for a ‘through’ school for approximately 1200 students aged 6-18 comprising; teaching spaces, a health & physical education centre, dining area, play areas, administration facilities, a mosque and equine facilities. Alongside the school, a 400 key 5* hotel was required for students’ visiting families, as well as residential facilities for the students and staff.
In response to this brief, the concept for the school was developed around the idea that a student’s journey through the academy should be an educational and physical one, with teaching spaces assisting different modes of learning and easing the transition from early years to graduation. By placing all the teaching accommodation under one roof in discrete ‘pavilions’, the student becomes aware of the Academy as a whole. The building itself was conceived as a circular form that arranges these individual pavilions with elementary school, girls’ high school, boys’ high school and auditorium being housed in ‘major’ pavilions, separated by ‘minor’ pavilions housing supporting accommodation. A secondary roof sails over each pavilion, allowing the rooftops to be used as shaded play areas.
The centre of the circular plan was envisaged as a large multi-functional space - the ‘heart’ of the Academy. The design was developed to reflect Abu Dhabi’s commitment to sustainability. As such, the masterplan places taller buildings to the south to afford shading and maximises penetration of prevailing winds. The building itself incorporated; stack ventilation through the central space and wind-catchers; thermal mass heat-sink; PV’s and solar hot water heating; the installation of efficient internal water fittings; hot start water recirculation technology, and air tightness of 5m3/hr/m2 at 50pa.