Fast-track education

04 Mar 2011

New Space Architects completes school in under 14 months

The brief is to design a co-ed secondary school for 2,000 students age 13-16. The school will come equipped with supporting auditoriums, a large library, cafeteria and sporting facilities which include swimming pools, tennis courts and indoor badminton halls. The school also contains boarding facilities for all the students as well as teachers' staff quarters. The site area is 91,000 sq m and the built up gross floor area is 90,000 sq m. The design was completed in 5 months with construction completed in 8 months.

The concept is intuitive in many aspects. The association of the final assembly could be described as a collage of ideas from wanting to recreate street squares and edges, to providing backgrounds for social spaces for children and adults to interact. Building and formal expression of facades are meant to recreate specific memories associated with schools. The heart of the design is the assembly area and running track orientated north-south. The whole site is surrounded by a 2-metre-high wall. On the west and south-west edges the site is enclosed by 5-storey student dormitories which look out on to the street.

A long laboratory block is orientated east-west. This block is connected to the fingers of classroom blocks orientated north-south and connected on the second floor by bridges. The circulation is on the north side of the classroom blocks and consists of a long ramp enclosed by transparent aluminum screens .The classroom fenestration orientated south. The ground floor spaces have large open spaces, allowing pedestrian movement in all directions across buildings. The auditorium block entrance is entered through an open internal courtyard. This deep building is punctuated by vertical voids which punch through to the admin and library above.

The assembly area is flanked on the 1st floor by a dining area to the north and an indoor sports complex to the south. Students can watch the activities in the assembly while they dine in the cafeteria. The staff quarters are oriented north-south and overlook the eastern end of the site where a large running track and soccer pitch is located. This is the tallest building on the site. Architecturally, the response to climate in the area is achieved by providing sun shading and natural ventilation in the classroom blocks. The placement of buildings provide shade for each other, while narrow apertures on the ground floor funnel the breezes north-south through the courtyards. Where the buildings are deep (auditorium block and teachers dormitories) the architects have provided vertical voids to funnel air upwards and also provided many verandas on the perimeter for the sun shading and funneling of air through the facades.

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