Recycle and reinvent

Friday 26 Feb 2010

High-rise school in Singapore designed to nurture and inspire

This project involves the adaptive reuse and partial rebuilding of an existing urban school in the hilly terrain of Hong Kong Island – transforming a 20 year old utilitarian public school facility into a contemporary learning environment for the 21st century. The extremely constrained conditions (small site area, undulating terrain, limited site access, limitations of existing structures etc) offer a unique opportunity to explore new strategies for a high-rise School in the City. The new school will be 11 storeys high, and the study of the vertical stacking of program and space to derive an appropriate high-rise urban school typology form the main thrust of the design.

The project is about ‘making connections’ at different levels – physical connections between the old and new structures as well as between the existing primary school and its expansion of the secondary school wing into this new facility, visual connections to the surrounding mountainous landscape, social connections within the school as well as between the school and its community. The architectural form and expressions are a result of careful resolution of these issues and the spaces created celebrate the notion of Community and Connectivity.

The project aims to ensure a learning environment which supports the new learning, imbued with rich experiential qualities which nurture and inspire. Fitting an extensive program in a severely constrained site and context was quite a challenge. Innovative strategies were adopted to ensure optimisation and creative use of teaching spaces. Learning is conceived to be everywhere within the school, thus blurring the boundaries between circulation-program space, inside-outside, formal-informal zones. The entire school becomes a ‘livestage for learning’ where walls are ‘thinkpads’ and ‘touch-screens’, stairs transform into amphitheatres and linkbridges become fitness tracks etc.

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