Growing up, not out...

Friday 18 Feb 2011

Sanjay Puri Architects designs multi-level school amidst high urban density surroundings

This 15-level school building is located in a densely populated urban area with a permissible built up area that is 4 times the plot area. As opposed to most schools built on large tracts of land with playgrounds, open spaces and low rise buildings, this multilevel school has a built up area of 14,000 sq m on a plot of only 2,100 sq m. To add further constraints, the site is located in the centre of a residential part of the city with a high density of residential buildings ranging from 7 to 15 storeys all around. A height restriction of 55 metres governs the development of the entire neighbourhood of this site.

The owners of the school required the entire potential to be utilised in terms of the available built up area of 14,000 sq m. The numerous constraints necessitated the building to be constructed upto the entire available height of 45 m leaving only marginal open space on all sides. Due to lack of open to sky spaces at the ground level the school is planned with a sheltered open space below the footprint of the building, a large auditorium space in the basement and sporting facilities planned in the topmost level and the terrace. At each floor, classrooms occupy the periphery with a central circulation spine that is punctuated connecting a few levels vertically while opening out on the northern side.

To create privacy to the school spaces and make the building more energy efficient a second skin of hexagonal modules sheaths the entire building. The modules have small openings on the southern side to reduce the heat gain into the building while providing cross ventilation since the sun during most of the year is on the southern side in this location while southwest breeze blows throughout the year. Towards the northern side, with indirect sunlight, the hexagons are like truncated pipes moving in and out and creating additional usable spaces for sitting, playing or reading as extensions to the open spaces on each floor. This tall school, although without a playground due to its small site, overcomes numerous constraints creating smaller open spaces at each floor with larger ones at the ground and the highest levels while being energy efficient and creating a self contained environment within its densely populated neighbourhood.

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