Learning to fit in

26 Feb 2010

Optimal experiential design for school in tight Singapore space

International School @ Tampines, Singapore (United World College of South East Asia - East Campus) is school of approximately 76,000sq m in floor area located on a site of 5.2ha, comprising of one infant block, two educational blocks, one sports amenity and a student hostel. Once completed the campus would have a capacity of 2,500 students aged 4 to18 years old. The 24-month construction of the campus since April 2009 is expected to be fully completed in April 2011.

In the context of resource limitation and land scarcity in Singapore, the design and construction of schools typically poses challenges with regards to land usage and energy consumption. Arising from the requirements of large spaces such as fields and halls, and the basic principles of an optimal learning environment with abundant daylighting, ventilation, interaction spaces and landscapes, school design commonly occupies a substantial plot of land.

In the context of limited land capacity in Singapore, the design of the International School, has innovatively intensified and optimized the land usage without compromising on the qualities of the optimal learning environment. An elevated landscape podium deck is created to increase floor areas without further densifying the built-up areas by unnecessarily increasing in the vertical height of the campus, which is not a desirable quality in the design of a school.

The creation of an elevation deck also creates a vehicular-free and fully landscaped platform to facilitate student interactions, hence establishing as the key interaction zone for the whole campus. Similarly, the clever use of the large roofscape in multiple functions such as the ball courts, roof garden, solar panel field, etc has also further optimised the use of spaces.

The high energy usage in a school is commonly attributed to the high electricity usage for optimal indoor quality and operational redundancy in the non-simultaneous usage of rooms. The design of the International School resolves the challenges in energy management by adopting efficient technologies in the operation of mechanical services, and harnessing and recycling substantial volume of supplementary energy and resources in order to cut down the energy consumption of the school.

Renewable solar energy, rainwater recycling, efficient air-conditioning and lighting systems are a few key environmental features in the energy management of the school. The schools boast an extensive area of close to 0.5hectares of solar panels in harnessing the solar energy, which is one of the largest in the region. Similarly, 0.5hectares of the elevated soccer field is also design as a rainwater collection catchment area for the rainwater irrigation system within the school premise.

The design of UWCSEA (East Campus) exemplifies the resolution of challenges in energy & resource management in the design of a school and at the same time illustrates the means of capitalizing the built-environment as the optimal learning environment for experiential learning in the students, where the various building designs are incorporated as part of the educational tools and processes in shaping the young minds of global citizens with keen awareness on our environment.

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