The Federal Way Elementary Schools programme encompasses the design of a new type of elementary school. The district asked designers to create recognizable and appropriate schools for its very diverse
student population (more than 80 languages are spoken by parents and students). The client also wanted to create schools that fulfil the district's guiding principles: Learning, Safety, Relationships and Flexibility.
Designers responded with environments that enrich the learning experience for students; places where kids can be focused and playful, learners and doers, scholars and explorers. The architecture comprises
bold geometry and colour to leap out from the landscape even as the building footprints and forms integrate with the site.
Rows of core learning spaces are bisected by an asymmetrical interstitial network containing the school's common areas. The core learning wings are configured in bars of column-free space, with raised areas of
roof providing clerestory window 'lanterns.' The use of colour inside and outside of each bar creates a distinct identity for each. The lanterns provide direct and bounced light into hallway/common spaces and
into every classroom, and further create an architectural bridge between each bar of colour.
While all spaces engage users through bold colour, natural daylight and view connections to the outdoors, the geometric formality of the learning spaces contrasts with the playful network transept. The network provides a clear connecting common area for student and community use of the school. Individual areas (group learning, display, library, lunchroom etc.) are defined by structural accents and colour, but remain largely open to one another, encouraging progression and connection through the school while still providing distinct spaces.