Sea views

Wednesday 03 Mar 2010

New preK-12 multi-purpose facility on reclaimed waterfront inspired by Korean palace and garden design

Songdo International School lies at the heart of a residential neighbourhood in the Songdo International Business District, a new community being built on reclaimed waterfront in Incheon, Korea. The campus accommodates classrooms, offices, performing and fine-arts spaces, and athletic facilities for 2,000 students in prekindergarten through grade 12. Typical classroom and laboratory modules and layouts, and the spatial relationships between them, promote an atmosphere of positive support and clear communication.

The site plan is configured as individual building elements linked together by a series of courtyards. Pedestrian movement through the campus is organised on east-west axes that offer extended views and unite larger zones of experience with shorter north-south axes intersecting these promenades. The lower school is a cluster of smaller buildings while the upper school is consolidated around an atrium to promote intellectual and social exchange. Division into sub-buildings allows for the specific identity of different age groups, each with its own courtyard and place on the campus.

Taking inspiration from traditional Korean palace and garden design, stepped sections and sunken gardens separate age groups and create programmatic connections. At the heart of the courtyard sequence is a 'town square', a semi-amphitheatre in view of all major programme elements. In this way, the process of graduating from grade to grade can be traced as a journey through the school grounds. Building façades and interior space plans underscore this linear order. Internal spaces are fenestrated on north and south sides, where light is tempered by wood screens and spandrels. East and west façades with harsher sun angles are clad with copper panels. Single-sided window exposures in the classrooms allow a balance between natural lighting and control of visual environment.

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