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precedent studies


Unit 2: SCHOOL Mariem Ahmed Arsène Frère Charles Follett Rikki Geddes Yevgen Gozhenko Clément Guérard-Ortelli Joe Leask Julie Neilson Nathan Noble Stewart Rees Karen Reid Hannah Skyner Rolands Ziva Tutors Alan Dunlop Penny Lewis


precedent studies


01. Research & Analysis 005






023 027 033 039

045 055 061



SCHOOL TYPES Intro to School types Education System Structures Standardisation of School Free Schools TEACHING METHODS Montessori Steiner Vocational

067 079 085 091 097 105 111

DESIGN CONSIDERATIONS The Community Security Building School Identity Psychological Design Daylight in Schools Acoustics Technology


KEY SPACES The Ideal Classroom The In-Between




051 Vittra Telefonplan School


02. Precedent Studies

157 161 165 169 173 177 181 185 191 195 199

INDIVIDUAL CASE STUDIES 005 George Heriots School 009 Hunstanton Secondary School 013 Hallfield Primary School 019 Amsterdam Orphanage 021 Bousfield Primary School 025 Apollo Schools 029 CIEP Elementary Schools 033 Mossbourne community school 039 Oxgangs Primary School 043 Chartwell School 047 Leutschenbach School

207 211 215 219 225 229 233 239 243 247

055 La Terra Dei Bambini 059 Dunfermline High School

063 Jesmond Gardens School 067 Vibeengskolen

073 Stratford School Academy 077 Lairdsland Primary School

081 Fuji Kindergarten

087 Brimmond Primary School 091 Makoko Floating School

095 Inverness Royal Academy

INNOVATIVE SCHOOLS 253 259 267 273

101 Seabird Island School 107 Lycee Albert Camus 115 Baan Huay Sarn Yaw School 121 The Kathleen Grimm School

03. Design Intervention

287 291 295 301 305 309 313 317 321 327 331 337 341

INDIVIDUAL DESIGNS George Heriots School Hallfield Primary School Amsterdam Orphanage Apollo Schools CIEP Elementary Schools Mossbourne community school Chartwell School Vittra Telefonplan School La Terra Dei Bambini Dunfermline High School Vibeengskolen Lairdsland Primary School Fuji Kindergarten

Hannah Skyner



William Wallace, Edinburgh, 1628 George Heriots School was originally designed by architect Royal Master Mason, William Wallace, in 1628 with the intention of it being Heriots Hospital in Edinburgh. It was used as a military hospital from 1650 until 1659 when it then became an all boys school. The rooms are designed in a traditionally Scottish manner with no connecting corridors and six turret staircases, one in each corner of the

courtyard and two on opposing external faces. The campus is now compiled of 9 buildings, all set around the large playground. The majority of the buildings were designed and constructed to a similar style of the Old Building however, there are two contemporary buildings which have been designed to contrast yet compliment the historic architecture.

Hannah Skyner .5

This school was originally chosen as a bad school building case study. We were intrigued by the history of the building and how its initial design wasn’t to be a school, yet it is renowned as one of the best schools in Scotland for academic achievement.

Fig 01. Existing Ground Floor plan originally drawn at scale 1:200.

Upon analysis of the original building it’s clear to see the traditional Scottish plan arrangement has barely been altered. Teachers and pupils find the plan to be disruptive as users of the middle classroom on each wing have to walk through the end classrooms due to there not being any circulation space. Toilet facilities are minimal within the original building, with only one for each sex being provided on the ground floor. Access is also an issue, the stairs which are required to access the tower classrooms are spiral stairs which are old and present health and safety issues, there is no lift throughout the entire campus, not one building is accessible for those in a wheelchair.



Security also presents itself as an issue on campus. Due to the sites history it is a spectacle for tourists who often try to gain unauthorised entry. The mandatory uniform for students is a good deterrent as trespassers would be noticed, however there is still an element of risk to the staff and students which is difficult to moderate. I went on to analyse the plan of the ‘Old Building’ in a bit more depth. Using the other precedent which I studied, Jesmond Gardens Primary School, I looked at how incorporating acoustic curtains could allow for learning spaces to be a bit more flexible. I highlighted a possible location to place a lift if accessibility poses as a problem for the institution.

Fig 02. Existing First Floor plan, originally drawn at scale 1:200. Adjustment proposals sketched on overlay.

Fig 03. Existing Third Floor Plan, originally drawn at scale 1:200.





Alison & Peter Smithson, Northfolk, 1954 Hunstanton School was designed by Allison & Peter Smithson in 1949, as a response to a competition to showcase proposals for a new breed of school. the secondary modern, instituted by an education act at the end of the second world war with no clear sense of what it should contain, or indeed teach. The building possesses a machanistic architectural image unlike the affluent Hallfield School. The design was heavily influenced by the work of Mies Van Der Rohe in Illi-

nois. Hunstanton is more honest than Mies’s work – what you see is the true structural frame, welded on-site to make a continuous plastic structure. The standard sections, though large and in short supply, were relatively cheap. School design was the one area of British architecture where prefabrication and reptition had reallt taken hold at this time, following on from the success of Hertfordshire.

Joe Leask .9

Since the building was listed grade II in 1993, the lower glazing panels on each floor have been replaced by opaque sheets, making it harder to see in. This change failed to address the building’s principal problem: that it is freezing in winter and too hot in summer. The original underfloor heating, which warmed the school just before it closed each day, has long been replaced by conventional radiators. Yet the school has come to terms with its building and is proud to occupy something unique. Windows still crack, particularly when encouraged by the kids. But local builders are experienced in replacing the glazing and in persuading the sliding windows to open. The school however, has remained extremely adaptable over the years, credit is given to the Smithson’s gridular & centralized plan.

Fig 01. Top: Ground floor plan Bottom: First floor plan of the Hunstanton school. In black is the modelled section of the building.



Fig 02. Model of the school.

In 1984, after many years of piecemeal repair, hundreds of panels were condemned for replacement. Tony Twiggs, Norfolk’s Deputy County Architect at the time proclaimed, “...after a clear frosty November night, I have watched panels shatter one by one as the sun has come up and heated them.” When Peter Smithson died in 2003, a former geographer teacher, JTA Shorten, declared to The Times that Hunstanton was “a tragedy”. He complained about water ingress and the lack of expansion joints that caused the windows to crack as their metal frames expanded. The building continues to cost a fortune in heating and maintenance costs each year thus its sustainability must come into question. Overall there is a great contrast between the architectural ambition and the general practicalities of the building, ultimately the occupants seem to recognise the inherent qualities and are proud to work and study in such a place.

Fig 03. Typical modular cage of standard units. Diagram shows use of built-up columns and tight steel beams in one of many possible variations. For long spans, deeper beams in multiples of the 8’3» module are used. Precast concrete panels and window form walls.





Lasdun, London, 1955 Caruso St-John, 2005


“…An approach is favored in which individual human activities are enhanced by the articulation of spaces of different character, in which a building’s unity of form and idea is considered paramount, and in which technique is made the servant of the controlling form. The humanism of this approach and the departure from mechanistic modern architecture are underlined by the biological analogies of this plan, especially the resemblance to the unfurling form of a plant, with stem, leaves and petals.”

Joe Leask .13

01. The Original School The dismissal of the modernist gridular approach led Lasdun to integrate a fragmented and curvaceous composition within a 2.75 acre woodland amongst the Hallfield Estate. The poetic and appealing form allows for the appreciation and retention of the existing trees, maintaining a sense of beauty about the site. Not only does the building respond to its context, but it also offers a connection of humanistic sense and scale in comparison to the nearby housing tower blocks. The scheme includes a long twisting wing, housing the junior school classrooms and staff offices, all achieve an eastward facing aspect

over two floors. At the east end of the block, there are dining facilities for the children. Administration, assembly and dining areas are all stacked for structural economy. A cross-route links two identical assembly halls, one above the other, to a group of four pentagonal pods, each divided in half to provide eight infant classrooms in a pavilion form. Conceptually, with the classrooms sweeping out into the woodland, Lasdun wanted the learning experience to feel like relaxing in a meadow. This is where the fragmented nature of the building is most clearly seen. A series of intimate outdoor spaces are created for the children to explore, creating a link between the school interiors and prospering nature beyond.

Fig 01. Drawing of the view towards fragmented infant classrooms.



Fig 02. Site plan

02. The Caruso St John Addition In 2001, Caruso St John Architects were commissioned by Westminster City Council to expand the capacity of the school. Six new junior classrooms and three infants classrooms were required to replace temporary accommodation, which had been on the site for more than 25 years. The design for two compact buildings, one for the junior school and one for the infants allow each to be next to its own part of the school and preserves the playground spaces. They have been placed as close to its historical neighbour as possible, so that spaces between have shape and intimacy, as is the case with the original Lasdun scheme. The new buildings have joined the group, closing off views from the centre of the site as if they are the last pieces of a complicated jigsaw. The new buildings form clusters of three rooms, where each classroom is on a corner with pleasant views over the site. The windows to the hallways and glazing at the doors to the classes allow glimpses across the deep floors from room to hall to outside, such that the interiors feel very open and busy.

Fig 03. Left: drawing of the view towards dining blocks and assembly halls.

Fig 04. Right: drawing of the view towards two-storey junior classrooms/staff room back





Aldo Van Eyck, Amsterdam, 1955-1960 First of all, we have to keep in mind that this establishment isn’t, properly said, a school. But the fact that it’s made to educate children from 0 to 18 and the level of connections between all ages set up by Van Eyck make the Orphanage a model for all educative buildings.

Original Orphanage director, Van Meuers, wanted a piece of paradise for his children in the outskirts of Amsterdam, far from the city noises & agitation. The building host dormitories for children from 0 to 18, a gymnasium, library, kitchen, infirmary and administrative spaces.

«a small world in a big, big world into a small house as a city, a city as a home, a home for children.»

Clément Guérard-Ortelli .17

Member of CIAM and founding member of the Team X movement, Aldo Van Eyck had strong opinions about modern architecture. Thus the Amsterdam Orphanage is the ideal occasion to develop his humanist theories. As his first built project, Van Eyck’s Orphanage is now a model of modernist architecture. With this building, the architect introduces the notion of relativity. Quoting Van Eyck: «coherence of things lies not in their subordination to a central, dominant principle but in their reciprocal relations». There is no more higher composition principle, but however, the building becomes not a chaos but a complex coherence. It finds its unity

in diversity. Another important notion brought by CIAM architects and clarified by Van Eyck is Twinphenomena. Inspired by human psychology, the idea that our mental condition is constantly fluctuating between a huge desire of freedom and our basic need of security. The first one being possibly summed up as the exterior and the second one as the interior. Twinphenomena sets up meaningful transitions between both, creating thresholds, relations between inside & outside, spaces barely open to barely closed.

To go further, Twinphenomena is the abolition of conflicting oppositions such as Part/Whole, Inside/Outside, Many/Few, Unity/ Diversity... Developping these theories, and copying the way non-hierarchical cities such as Amsterdam develop, Van Eyck made the Orphanage a place with a lot of interconnexions and in-between spaces. «a small world in a big, big world into a small house as a city, a city as a home, a home for children.».

Fig 01. Pictures of kids playing in and outside the building.

The whole building is based on 2 different modules: the first one, for dormitories and other little spaces, is a 3,36m square. The other one is only used for bigger spaces such as the library, the gymnasium... and is equivalent as 9 small unities (10,08m square). The building is based on a 3,36x3,36 m grid, and is organized on various diagonals. Thus every indor space has its own outdoor space as well. That’s why everything takes place around patios and a communal courtyard. The modules are made of beams and columns, concrete circular pillars, and on top of them, a rounded roof with skylight.


Fig 02. Drawing by Van Eyck explaining how different spaces connect to each other. The dark squares are the common rooms. PRECEDENT I SCHOOL

Even if it’s obvious that the big courtyard with the circular seat is the main outdoor space and entrance of the building, it isn’t by the same the most important. There is no such thing as hierarchy here. But above it, the staff building creates a first threshold toward the inside, as well as it provides a look-out post for the children’s security. Everything is made to encourage contact between the groups, including staff members. The whole building is child-fit, it works as an complete playground. Games and points of interest are integrated to the furnitures. Every child’s need and interest is taken into account. From the need to take a nap for children 0-6, outside play for girls 10-14. Plus, each window is designed such as every kid when seated could see people passing by outside. And each dormitory has its own patio and access to the garden.

Fig 03. Storyboard explaining the different thresholds you encouter while entering the building. It also shows the relation between inside/outside.

So is abolished the frontier between Work & Play. Conforming to the Montessori educational method, children have all the freedom to learn and discover whatever they want by confronting themselves to their environement. And this one is even more interesting because of its various scales of reading, key to awake a child’s curiosity. Placing children in a city-like environnement, with much freedom, and safe, so they can learn how the world works at their own rythm. AMSTERDAM ORPHANAGE




Chamberlin, Powel and Bon, London, 1957 In 1952, Chamberlin Powell and Bon, aslo known for designing the Barbican later on in their career, were selected to design the Bousfield Primary School in South Kensington, London. The playful design replaced 6 war damaged villas and housed over 500 pupils. With one of the most striking features of the building, the Pilkington glass panels, designed

to teach young kids about mixing colours with yellow verticals and blue/ green horizontals, creating a unique and playful aethetic to the building. Due to the astounding degree of spatial organisation the school allows for continuous possibility for adaptation of the school since the opening of the school 60 years ago.

Yevgen Gozhenko .21

Fig 01. External Courtyards between classrooms and corridors.

The brick and glass modernist building sits in sea of mature trees, making the building feel like a pavilion in a garden. A moat was designed at the frontage of the building, jokingly described by Powel as to keep out school inspectors, while for the rest of the site is surrounded by perforated brick wall to match the surrounding villas. Within the playground, another playful feature appears in a form of a huge water sphere, covered in sprayed concrete and painted gold.

The spatial organisation of the school is one of the main factors which allowed the school to be such a success for over 60 years. The courtyards, not only create a great sense of connection to the nature and allow for abundance of daylight to filter into the hallways, they also they create visual links across classrooms, creating a visual guide for children as they navigate through the school. Generous amount of green space around the school and simple modular plan allowed for adaptations to occur to keep up with the fast paced world of education.

Fig 02. The school’s windows teach children basic color notions.



Fig 03. Orignal Ground Floor Plan.

1. Entrance lobby 2. Junior hall 3. Inant hall 4. Junior classroom 5. Infant classroom 6. Cloackroom, lavatory 7. Medical inspection form 8. Kitchen 9. Kitchen stores. 10. Schoolkeeper 11. Enclosed junior courtyard 12. Enclosed infant courtyard 13. Amphitheatre 14. Main entrance gate


15. Paved turn-around above fuel bunkers 16. Playground shelter 17. Junior playground 18. Infant playground 19. Garden 20. Water tank 21. Schoolkeeper’s house 22. Turn-around 23. Junior dining-room 24. Infant dining-room 25. Junior staff room 26. Secretary 27. Infant staff room




Herman Hertzberger, Amsterdam, 1980-1983 Twin Apollo Primary Schools, with almost identical spatial programmes, one designed to be a Montessori school and the other to be a traditional school. The Amsterdamse Montessori School and the Willemspark Primary School, as known individually, are considered Hertzeberger’s masterpieces in school design - due to the astounding degree of spatial, structural and material resolution achieved during construction, and continuous possibility for adaptation of the schools within the fast changing world of education.

«The price to be paid for buildings that are designed complete, self-contained compositions, with scarcely any scope for later adaptation in response to the fast-changing world of education.»

Yevgen Gozhenko .025

Fig 02. Aerial view of the Apollo Schools by Herman Hertzberger.

Due to the noise pollution in the area, the volumes of the schools are largely closed to the outside, while on the inside the schools are like a large house, with classrooms congregating around a central courtyard to achieve spatial transparency. The buildings are three strorey high, split vertically to create 6 half floor level intervals. The classrooms are L shaped in plan, creating a threshold which joins and interlocks the classroom and central hall. The space is defined by a circular column which supports the beams emerging from the classroom, this reinforces the idea of connecting the classroom and the central hall, making it one of the most important aspects of the design.

Fig 01. Typical Apollo Schools first floor .plan



Fig 03. Drawing of the central void of the Montessori school. In brown, all wooden elements.

The central hall and amphitheater, rising from the first floor to the roof light, at once becomes an intimate space with various little spaces to work in, and with wooded seats that step up at the centre of the room it can be used to host the entire school or used by kids as work benches for group projects. The daylight enters the amphitheater from every direction, through the staircases on either side - which are made of steel and

glass on the upper floors to allow the most penetration, from glass corner of the classroom entrance and mainly from the roof-light that spans across the space. The space allow for visions of sight across vertical and horizontal extensions, creating engagement between each level of primary school.

Fig 04. Typical Apollo Schools Section. APOLLO SCHOOLS




Oscar Niemeyer, Rio De Janeiro, 1982 Designed by Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer, the CIEP elementary schools were an experimental project conceived in 1982 in conjunction with an overhaul of the educational system. The concept was to create a standardised school design which could be replicated throughout Rio de Janeiro, providing vastly improved education for deprived and underprivileged children. Under the scheme children would receive full time-education, regular meals as well as medical and dental care.

Stewart Rees .029

«It’s a brave city that says, ‘Here is our standard school and we are building it everywhere.’» - Mairi Johnson. Former deputy design director of the Education Funding Agency

In total, a network of 508 schools were built across the city and state of Rio de Janeiro, with the distinct modernist appearance quickly becoming recognised as a symbol of high-quality education. Although the school was not without problems, the ambitious and forward thinking design is still being used to influence and inform standardised school development both in Brazil and internationally.

The bold modernist design was constructed from a series of prefabricated concrete panels, a technique designed to save time onsite and ultimately save money in already tight budget. The schools were built on prominent and visible sites with the theory that locating them on elevated positions and near highways would amount to political propaganda and form a tangible symbol of educational reform.






Fig 02. CIEP Tancredo Neves (1985) - the first CIEP school.

With summers in Rio de Janeiro reaching temperatures in excess of 40 degrees celsius, a sophisticated passive ventilation strategy was implemented by Niemeyer to provide a comfortable learning environment. Adjustable louvres line openings in the faรงade providing shading and air flow directly into classrooms. Internally, divisions between the classrooms and corridors terminate below ceiling level allowing for efficient cross ven-

tilation throughout. Whilst this may provide efficient air circulation, noise from corridors proved to be intrusive of lesson, resulting in works to extend this division to full height and thus hampering ventilation. With poor air circulation overheating becomes a huge concern and as such many of the CIEP schools have been retrofitted with air conditioning.

Fig 02. Model of CIEP schools.





RSHP, London, 2002-2004 The Mossbourne Community Academy was formed in 2004 on the site of the former Hackney Downs Academy. The decision to build the school was part of a larger scheme of regeneration for the area, as the borough of Hackney is on of the most deprived in England. One of the key factors for the redevelopment of the school (other than to function as a school to accommodate and edu-

cate over 1000 pupils) was for the building to act like an engine of regeneration in its own right. This was achieved by offers the facilities of the building to the wider community. The site was bought by Sir Clive Bourne who was responsible for founding the school as one of the first ‘City Academies’.

Rikki Geddes .033

Fig 01. External View of Mossbourne Academy

Richard Rogers and partners (RSHP) were commissioned to design the new school on what is a very constrained and complicated site. The site is of a triangular shape that is confined and subject to high levels of noise from the busy railway tracks that enclose it on two sides. However on the third side (to the North) the site looks out over Hackney Downs, one of very few treasured green spaces in the Hackney borough. The solution to the constraints of the site was to design the school in the shape of an open V following the natural shape of the site. With it’s back to the railway lines and its face looking out over the green space of the Hackney Downs to the North.

Fig 02. Origenal School On Site

Fig 03. Site Plan Showing Key Elements of the Site.



Fig 04. Had Drawn Perspective of Internal Corridor and Triple Height Space

The teaching spaces look out onto a new landscaped area that is visually linked to the Hackney Downs beyond. Each teaching faculty for year groups are housed in sections of the building configured like ‘terraced housing’ each accessed from a broad covered cloister and internal circulation via an intermediate zone. Each terraced zone consists of a ground floor common space, designated staff areas (there are no specific staff rooms in the school) a top level IT space and two levels of more traditional classrooms all looking out over the Downs. As the classrooms are all fully glazed on one side self-policing of the common space at the front of the building can me performed creating a safe place for the pupils. The ethos of Mossbourne Community Academy contributes community learning – is fully accessible to members of the community – as well as offering excellent facilities to secondary students. As a result, the design distributes popular community facilities through the scheme rather than concentration them in one particular area. The approach intentionally erodes the boundaries of the academic the creative and recreational aspect of learning. The intention is to encourage the community to participate in the activities of the school and in so doing, establish a model for ‘lifetime learning’

Fig 05. Hand Drawn Section of Mossbourne Academy MOSSBOURNE COMMUNITY SCHOOL


Fig 06. Site Model of Mossbourne Community Academy

The school is composed of three primary elements. The main component of the building is the timber frame with the primary structure of the building being made up from glue laminated timber sections. The structure is comprised of two rows of parallel H frames that are spanned by secondary beams. The structure frames a series of classrooms, with the secondary beams projecting past the frame to carry a series of external walkways. Due to the size of the building this makes the school on of the largest timber frame structures in the UK. The second key part of the structure is the large mass concrete wall that acts as a sound barrier combating the noise of the passing trains. The final key element in the building is large sections of glazing. The glazing covers almost all of the Northern faรงade to take advantage of the views out across to the Down. Also to gain additional light into the deeper section of the building large light tunnels have been created along the periphery of the mass concrete mass wall.

Fig 05. Part Elevation Showing Timber Structure



The school has been designed to facilitate modes of use and to cater for the needs of the school children and adult members of the community. For this to happen adaptability was a key aspect to the design. This is achieved by creating a limited number of bespoke spaces to ensure that the general teaching spaces can be adaptable to a variety of uses. The building en-

velope responds to the external site and climate conditions, which are fixed. However the internal layout provides maximum flexibility where by the partition walls running perpendicularly to the external walls are assumed to be relatively temporary and can be reconfigured quickly and easily without disrupting the school.

Fig 06. Internal Image of Classroom Showing Exposed Structure

Fig 07. External Perspective of Pupils Going to Class





Edinburgh, 2005 ÂŤ... We want to find out what went wrong with these schools and are determined to see what lessons can be learned, not just here in Edinburgh but across Scotland and the UK...Âť - Council chief executive Andrew Kerr (Marrs 2016)

Karen Reid .039

In January 2016 when Storm Gertrude hit with up to 110mph it caused a gable wall to collapse into the playground of Oxgangs Primary School in Edinburgh. Thankfully the wall fell apart early in the morning so this averted a major accident. If this had happened during the day there could have been serious consequences. Everyone was caught off guard with the wall collapse, especially parents. The school was closed for a few days for repairs and they reassured parents that it had been fixed. The school then reopened for 6 weeks and then it was the Easter holidays, however 48 hours before the school was to re-open the school was shut for the foreseeable future. Children

had then been in an unsafe school for 6 weeks as the school had obviously not been fixed properly. Oxgangs Primary School was built in 2005 as part of a ÂŁ360 million package of 17 schools across Edinburgh city. All 17 schools were built under the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) procurement system. Due to this and after what happened with Oxgangs Primary School, all 17 schools had to be inspected. Once they were inspected it turned out they all had construction issues and they had to all be closed within a few days of each other. Due to this over 7,000 children had to be placed in other schools around Edinburgh, this meant some schools had double capacity of students.

Fig 01. Photograph showing the collapse of the external wall. (Marrs 2016)



Fig 02. Workmen repairing the wall. (Bussey 2016)

One of the 17 schools had to bring in porta cabins as the old part of their school was open however the new extension done under the PFI was shut as it was too dangerous to occupy. These were 17 relatively new schools and they should not have had any serious issues with them causing them to close. This is turn lets the children down, who were learning in unsafe conditions. The issue as to why the schools were closed was due to the construction of their cavity walls. Header ties and wall ties were not inserted properly or at all during construction and this is what caused the gable wall at Oxgangs to collapse. If these had been inserted properly during construction in all 17 schools, this would have meant a safe teaching environment for the children, no interference in their education and would have saved money in fixing the problem.





EDHH Architects, Seaside, California 2006 Chartwell School is a small-scale project that lies in Seaside, CA and specialises in improving literacy skills with dyslexic students and helping them develop on to further education. The school is sited atop a valley and surrounded by trees for extra privacy. The two communities adjacent to the school have been brought together through unity within the spaces of Chartwell.

Its multi-functional practicality is down to the flexible architecture that surrounds its interior. Massive window bays that open up to the courtyard provide useful for summertime, the singular focal point of the school - a large red tower - is the visitor entrance point for those who are new to the design. Whereas, the students will freely move around the exposed campus exterior to find their own ways to their classroom.

Charles Follett .043

Fig 01. The ‘red tower’ stands proudly as the main entrance for guests and adorns the communal hall. The steel and timber frame of the school can be

In 2006 the project was completed and in the years to come the evidence of the school’s performance became widely vocalised: they were granted the 2007, Environmental award from the U.S EPA; the 2007 Honor Award, Energy & Sustainability from the American Institute of Architects San Francisco Chapter; and the 2008 LEED NC v 2.1 Platinum award from the U.S. Green Building Council (U.S. Green Building Council 2010). This zero-energy building has an outstanding performance rate and manages to integrate the systems in place into the curriculum. Children are encouraged to check water levels in the cistern and learn about their environment through exploration, safely.

Fig 02.. Site plan of Chartwell school, displaying the circulation and its relation to the outdoors for exploration. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.



community hall ceramic studio baseball court library drop off point admin staff rooms classrooms

Before the move to the finished school campus the board had leased a facility from a military base barracks down the road and it was causing issues in the school’s performance. The board therefore requested and acquired a site on Fort Ord where the schools exists today. The executive director, Douglas Atkins mentions, «each time I had pushed the envelope and tried to see what could be done. Increasingly, people reco-

gnised that there is a link between the relationship between the design of school facilities and the Educational outcomes of the occupants. Each time we learned more. Over the decades, we said things like «We wish we had done this on the last one.» Now things are making more sense, and there are more people willing to talk about and explore that connection»

Fig 03. Abstract Sketch of Chartwells exterior circulation space.

Fig 04. Serial vision sketches progressing form the exteral playground to the internal classrooms, these trasnsitions of light and spatial cues make way-finding more interesting for the students.



Fig 05. Sectional model to express natural lighting systems that the architects placed in order to direct daylight into the focal point of a classroom.

The school board acknowledged that there was a link between occupant performance and facility design and not just about a goal for green design, so it became more about building a campus that results in the strongest educational outcomes for students. In the next stage, they involved the students by letting them illustrate what they believe is the perfect learning environment, the result varied from whimsical ideas for analytical drawings which, in the end, were actually entered as part of a Request for Qualifications. Next stage, the board received responses from firms all over the country and the executive director was overwhelmed. After interviews and studies about the various practices, EDHH Architects were selected and work on the project, hence after, played out extremely well and to the communities liking.

Fig 06. Site model of the Chartwell School and its masses that make up various spaces in the school’s campus.




Christian Kerez, Zurich, 2009 Christian Kerez’s School starts from an ambitious idea: keep as much free space as possible on the plot. To achieve this, the architect decided to reduce all spaces at their lowest common denominator and stack them on top of the others. On the ground floor, communal play areas and the canteen, with a very low ceiling to «connect with the park around». The first three floors on top of it are classrooms, then it’s the library and auditorium level. Finally, a gymnasium occupies the top floor of the building.

«We wanted to make something intriguing, where you might ask, ‘what is the logic?’»

Clément Guérard-Ortelli .047

Fig 01. Picture of the overall building.

Kerez is well-known as an architect interested in structure. For the Leutschenbach school, he designed an impressive hung structure, standing on 6 pillars at the ground floor. From above, the building can be seen as a giant cantilever. This has for effect to create free plans at each level. On floors 1, 2, 3 & 4, rooms are placed along the long sides of the building, while the central space is used as a staircase and a «informal teaching space». All around the building run terraces, used as exterior space depending on the will of teachers, but also as brise-soleil and emergency exits. The three-stories tall structure that circles the classrooms level is suspended from 2 trusses running directly through the fourth floor. On the same level, 2 other transversal trusses support the gymnasium structure. This gymnasium can be passively cooled by motorized flaps. The heated floor slabs are alimented by a local heating system powered by a waste incineration plant.

Fig 02. Structure model of Kerez’s school. The entire building rests only on six pillars.



The aspirations of the architecte was to create a huge structure containing the classrooms so that the children could feel «as being part of a whole». And, sitting on the shared in-between spaces, they can take a look at the world they’re learning more about every day. On the ground floor, the «life spaces» (cantine, playground) are directly open to the park.

One last important thing to add about this building is its flexibility. Not only it provides additional teaching spaces whenever needed, but also its simplicity in architecture vocabulary make the Leutschenbach School perfectly suited to be used as any office building if ever the school is closing.

Fig 03. Left: Ground floor plan. Fig 04. Right: First floor plan.

Fig 05. The central void is used as a shared informal workspace, with a nice view of the city.





Rosan Bosch, Stockholm, 2011 In the city of Stokhholm, this free school takes sets an example inspiring many around the world for it’s innovative and colourful interior, wich works around the laptop being as the main learning tool for the students. Rosan Bosch designed the interior around Vittra’s educational principles to have a better environment for flexible and innovative learning. Digital media plays a huge factor in the design to implement comfortable and interesting space for the pupils

to work. Instead of the conventional classroom approach, Vittra Telefonplan teaches the children in smaller groups depending on their achievement level. After the success of this school, the results were incorporated into a manual to be used as an examplar school for Vittra’s future school designs that followed in Sweden. Currently, there are around 30 schools that follow the idea of designing without walls.

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Fig 01. Top: sketched section of the school Bottom: sectional model

Vittra Telefonplan uses didactic appraoches to create interesting and innovative teaching and study spaces. Vittra’s priority is to develop their students through an independant approach and challenge learning environments to be more creative and shape the future children. This school serves as an example for future schools looking for education to be more technically advanced by incorporating laptops into everyday learning. Laptops as a learning tool can give the designer more freedom to create flexible environments and spaces. Many innovative spaces have been created, for e.g. a giant iceberg is planted within the middle of the school which can be used as a cinema, platform or just as a breakout room which sets the frame for different types of learning to go on within the space. This environment displays Vittra’s work ethics of creating multi-purpose spaces that may be found challenging to create but create a playful, relaxing and adventurous setting for children to enjoy learning.

Fig 02. Sketch showing how stairs could be used to create comfortable seating spaces for individual and group study on laptops.

Fig 03. Interior sketch of a tree with a seating space under it and smaller learning spaces around it for smaller group of students.



Fig 04. Sketch of two different learning environments: one is fully enclosed and the other is open to noise but creates space for individual study excluded from others.

Spaces are created using custom made furniture, away from the norm and each learning zone takes on a creative name to identify them, to replace the use of classroom names. These spaces are loosely defined by subtle borders to separate them from each other when teaching is going on. The children love it and one Vittra teacher, Frida Monsen comments on the design by saying “many of my kids say ‘This is great because we don’t feel trapped.’ Vittra have achieved their initial goal for this school and will now carry on to use this as a precedence.

creativity, curiosity and inclination to explore and learn in different environments. The idea, essentially, is there to develop the thinking within a child and open them up to better opportunities in life with their newly acquired skills.

Through the concept of individual thinking and learning, children begin to form a better sense of responsibility with their time management skills as well as develop a sense of

Schools around the world can implement features from this school and hopefully educators in the UK can take notes from this.

The open nature of the school creates a safe place for learning which could be adapted in future schools to that appose threats of bullying and violence. This open environmment allows transparency, creates lunch spaces indoors and allows children to feel secure at all times.

Fig 05. The walls of the computer study areas are made from chalk boards for the children to grafitti on as they play or learn throughout the day. VITTRA TELEFONPLAN SCHOOL




ARCò, Mario Cucinella Architects, Gaza Strip, 2011 The idea of the Um al Nasser children’s center « the children’s land » in the Gaza strip started in 2011 as a response to a call from the local Bedouin community to the Vento di terra NGO, asking for access to quality health and educcational services for children and women of their village.

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Fig 01. The roof is reversed to help collect rainwater.

The Child center is a one floor building partially underground, that covers a 400 square meter area. The building is composed of six classrooms, a warehouse, a teaxher’s room, a laboratory for psychomotor activities, a multipurpose space, an infirmary, kitchen and toilets. The laboratory and the infirmary are fore all the village. Furthermore, they collect drinkable water for all the village « the kindergarten grows from the desert » : the insulating walls that surround the central courtyard and the classrooms are made of bags filled with soil. This is the earth-bag technique. The walls protect the kindergarten area where the children play and study. The building is conceived in terms of environmental sustainability, using innovative technical solutions to reinterpret the local identity and culture. There are several details that make this building an « architectural model » for the Palestinian construction.

Fig 02. Ground floor plan.

Fig 03. The earth bags building method explained.



Fig 04. Left: the wood structure placed in front of the windows is used as a sun-breaker to protect the classrooms.

Fig 05. Right: the double roof system activates the convective motions and the exchange between hot and cold air from the bottom.

What is really clever in the spirit of this school, it’s that it’s not just a school. It is became one of the most importante place in all the village. There is an infirmary an a laboratory for all the community and they collecting the rainwater. For me this exemple show that the school is really important. First, they built one where they really need to have education. The importance of school education lies in the fact that the children of today will become adult citizens of tomorrow. The growth and future of country highly depends upon the quality of the present school education system. With the ‘‘terra del bambini’’ the childrens can learn in the most inmportant place in the village, they can understand how the education can help them. Furthemore they see all the day how the ecofriendly architecture can help. They learn what is good for the environment and how creat a better place to live.

Fig 06. View of the central courtyard.





Fife Council Property Services, Dunfermline, 2012 The formation of a three fingers layouth proposes an interesting and easily navigated plan. It also answers some important questions; such as security with a single entrance overlooked by the office as well as numerous staff. This is also linked to their ‘See and be Seen’ strategy against bullying.

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Fig 01. Front of Dunfermline High School

Dunfermline High School was established in 1658 and has had numerous buildings constructed throughout history dependant with the school’s needs. This resulted in various different styles and eras of design on the site. It was decided that a new building was required to bring the School up to the 21st Century and to compensate for the growing amount of students. The new design had to accommodate up to 1800 students in a wide range of subjects. Internally there is a sports hall, two gymnasia, dance studio, fitness suite, cafeteria, drama studio with rehearsal rooms and an Assembly hall. All of which has been laid out in a plan that is meant to provide an ease to the students and visitors. The plan also allows for the security of the students by having the only entrance to be overlooked by various members of the staff.

rements of the community and teaching environment. All classrooms are located in the ‘finger’ forms which are accessed off the main atrium of space which was designed with the anti-bullying concept of ‘See and be seen’. This created an open circulation space in view of teachers and other pupils to try and fight against anti-social behaviour, but also acts as an open and comfortable space to be in. This has been emphasised with the wall of multi coloured glass.

Another important feature of the design process was fully involving the School throughout. This included workshops where students, teachers and the community could voice their opinions and wishes for the new school. This resulted in a building that has truly considered the requi060.


Fig 02. Sketch of the Ground Foor Plan

Feedback was provided about the new design which highlights an improvement in the attendance and school results along with the S4 results being the best ever. Moreover, attendance has moved up to the lowest absence rate of high schools in Fife, exclusions have dropped and community-use footfall during term-time has increased by 47% from the previous year for the first full year in the new school. The final building boasts a self-sufficient building which has been awarded two awards by RIAS; Award for Best Education and Community Building in Scotland as well as the Zero Waste Scotland Award in the Special Category Award for Resource Efficiency.

Fig 03. Section model of the school. DUNFERMLINE HIGH SCHOOL




ADP, Hartlepool, 2012 Jesmond Gardens Primary School was a ÂŁ7 million investment on behalf of Hartlepool Borough Council. It replaced the existing Victorian school which had various health and safety issues regarding electrical faults, flooding, damp and cold, poor sanitary provisions, sound disturbing

during lessons plus the inability to install Wi-Fi. Therefore, Hartlepool Borough Council agreed to construct a new 315 pupil primary school and nursery on the playing fields as part of the Governments Primary Capital Programme.

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Jesmond Road Primary School was built and opened to 600 five to thirteen year old children in 1902. The building changed from an ’all age’ joint infant and junior school to a primary school in the ‘90s, however the pupil enrolment figures began to drop and in 2011 there were only 300 pupils. Hartlepool Borough Council sold the existing building to developers Moor Galloway for £400,000. ADP designed a school which breaks away from the traditional classroom approach and is formed around the principles of transformational learning. The approach encourages the use of personalised, independent learning techniques that reflect a child’s stage, rather than age. The design combines flexible spaces, agile furniture strategies, and state-of-the-art technology to enable pupils to grow in their own way.

Fig 01. ADP plan of the school

The new school represents a shift, too, in local perception, bringing a positive contribution and regenerative element to an otherwise deprived area. Hartlepool Borough Council’s Primary Strategy for Change aspiration for the Primary Capital Programme was ‘…to transform the education of children, young people and their families in Hartlepool...’ The Council saw the ‘stage not age’ philosophy that underpins Jesmond Gardens Primary School as a key way of achieving this goal. The new Jesmond Gardens Primary School had proven very successful – SATS results have improved and the school is now oversubscribed for the early years, with absenteeism reduced and the children’s aspirations increased.


Fig 02. Sketch of the internal flexible corridor space which overlooks the courtyard.


Professor Stephen Heppell, a leading authority on design and technology in learning, formally opened the school “This is the best building I have ever opened. The acoustics are superb. It’s a world class school with such attention to detail. Every detail matters because every detail improves learning.” Enabling the main teaching bases to be used as a single large space or in a more cellular, traditional fashion was achieved by the use of specially-developed acoustic curtains. These curtains provide good sound insulation between spaces to effectively control distracting noise when closed, and yet are lightweight enough to be drawn by the children without assistance.

Fig 03. Sketch of the courtyard which connects with the dining hall and allows for a flexible connection of the internal and external spaces. Crucial for the flexible learning methods that this school adopts.

The curtains are also used between the ‘classroom’ areas and circulation routes for when acoustic privacy is required. As well as providing effective sound insulation between areas, the curtains also significantly contribute to the sound absorption in the spaces, which helps to reduce ambient and background noise levels and increase speech intelligibility. The acoustic scheme includes absorbent wall panels, along with the absorbent curtains and this has been successful in overcoming focussing problems. The absorption in the circulation areas is also custom-made, with timber battens spaced apart and absorbent material laid over. A similar arrangement is used in the hall, with large wall areas covered in hit-and-miss timber battens to provide the necessary absorption to control flutter echoes in this space.

Fig 04. Concept model indicating the differece in facade treatments. The school is solid and secure on the facades which overlook the street, carpark and community. In sharp contrast they are permeable and fluid to the courtyard and green spaces. JESMOND GARDENS PRIMARY SCHOOL




Arkitema Architects, Haslev, Denmark, 2013 The school itself is designed from the inside out with an overriding concept that activates the whole plot and the landscape elements that surround the school. The Vibeeng School signals playfulness with its red exterior and the active learning environments both inside and out.

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The Vibeeng School is designed by the Arkitema Architects practice. It is located in Haslev, Denmark. The primary goal of the Vibeeng School is to integrate sustainability in a low-energy school building (equivalent to LEED gold). It could also stimulate children learning while being in the environment. The School has a playful red exterior and several external education zones to reduce the energy requirements for the project. The abrupt folding of the roof create ‘house’ like images in the facade and spatial variation in the interior. The roof hosts skylights toward the north to improve the natural light inside and there are also several solar panels to reduce the energy need. The varying shapes of the roof are created to provide optimums angles for south-facing solar panels and north-facing windows.

Fig 01. Image of playground area. School is connected with playground and can be accessed straight from first floor.

Fig 02. Site Plan. Vibeengskolen with playground areas.



Fig 03. Drawing of initial idea.

The main big central space “heart” room addresses both the entrance area towards the east and the big open space towards the west. The school is laid out on the site in such a manner that. The social functions of the school that will take place in the big hall and the workshop square also face the entrance area in order to make it easier for the citizens of Haslev to use these functions. The ‘heart’ room has a dynamical shape with a multipurpose stair to connect with the rest of the school. Generally the “heart” room is a dynamically

shaped high ceilinged space with a large active multipurpose staircase at the base and with the option to also use the stage and the music room. It connects with the rest of the school. Smaller stairs and platforms shape the “heart” room further up in the building and make room for learning center, views towards the big hall and a connection to both the teachers, administration and other the core areas, providing great visual connectivity and school’s efficiency.

Fig 04. Sketch Drawing of internal communal space. VIBEENGSKOLEN


Fig 05. Sketch drawing of school exterior.

The project is the first Danish primary school adhering to the principles of the national master program for Primary Schools - a model program for primary schools recently issued by The Danish Enterprise and Construction Authority and the Realdania Foundation, in order to help rethink the physical environment of primary schools and make them better match current needs and ways of learning. The project for the Vibeeng School is based on this program and Arkitema Architects is thus the first architectural practice in Denmark to meet the challenges of the model program in an actual project.


Dorthe Keis, associated partner in Arkitema and creative lead on the competition project, is very proud of Arkitema’s winning proposal and states: “Our project lives up to the ambitions of the program by being a building that is designed and experienced from the inside out and which integrates the whole plot and the surrounding landscape in its spatial structure. Rather than thinking in shapes alone we have been concerned with flow, spatiality and landscape.”


Fig 06. Ground Floor Plan

Fig 07. First Floor Plan





Nicolas Hare Architects, London, 2014 The Stratford School Academy is the first of the ‘London Priority Schools Building Programme’. The School is to expand to a 1500 student academy split over two sites, Grosvenor Road and Upton Lane, with both sites accommodating 750 pupils. Upton Land was also designed to provide resources for up to 20 pupils with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD). Also at Upton Lane is a sports hall shared between the two schools.

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Fig 01. External Image of Stratford School.

The design was created with a model that optimises adaptability, economy and repeatability. This was achieved through a compact building diagram that minimised circulation space and optimised the most floor area. Flexible classrooms, whether it be for general or specialist teaching are located around the perimeter forming a ‘crust of learning’. By creating this ring of learning the multi functional spaces such as function halls and dining room spaces are located in large volume central spaces. These secondary spaces gained natural lighting and ventilation from large skylights.

Although both sites have their own specific constraints and requirements. The architects felt that the same modular aspect can be used to create in plan a similar style of planned space. They felt that bars can be arranged in a variety of ways around cores and existing structures, which can be of any size or form, and accommodate a variety of educational models. Which they felt can be seen with the accommodation of the enhanced requirements of the ASD resource provision at Upton Lane and the existing buildings at Grosvenor Road.

Fig 02. Left: Internal Image of Central Circulation Space. Fig 03. Right: External View of Stratfod School.



Fig 04. Had Drawn Perspective of Internal Corridor and Triple Height Space

Another main reason for this style of design is the economic factor. This was further enhanced be using generic materials and modules that allow for a large array of arrangements. This allowed for the ability of procuring identical elements across the programme that could be spread across several schools reducing the cost significantly. Although the school itself is functioning well and there seems to be no problems in the layout or teaching in the school a fundamental and costly problem occurred upon the handover to the school. When the handover process took place the head teacher was left the responsibility of fixing 700 snagging problems which cost the school ÂŁ600,000 pounds of unexpected fees.

Fig 05. Hand Drawn Section of Mossbourne Academy





Kirkintilloch, 2015 «... The informal and formal learning areas that form the classrooms – and the transparent and open nature of the spaces – allow different activities to take place in one lesson, with teachers able to supervise each part of the space. Pupils can work confidently and independently in open spaces, with more formal work carried out in the class base...» - Alan Dunlop

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Lairdsland Primary School is situated in Kirkintilloch just north of Glasgow’s city centre and was built in 2015. The school is one of many new schools commissioned by the Scottish Futures Trust, as part of Scotland’s £1.8 billion Schools for the Future Programme. As part of this Program, Lairdsland is one school being built in East Dunbartonshire under their Council’s Primary School Improvement Programme. The school is located on a brownfield site adjacent to the Forth and Clyde Canal. The school creates a sense of community in the area with a strong presence amongst the canal, marina and tow-path. Walters & Cohen have designed spaces within the school that can be used for a wide range of teaching methods. They reached their final design through many consultations with the Client, the Council, members of the community and even the pupils themselves.

Fig 01. Internal sketch showing the double height spaces within the school and also the use of colour throughout.

Fig 02 & 03. Sectional model of Lairdsland Primary School.



Fig 04. Sketch showing the relationship between formal and informal teaching and learning spaces.

The North-West side of the school is double height and glazed to allow for natural light and views onto the canal parallel. The main classrooms are on the South-East of the school, along with changing facilities and toilets for the pupils on the ground floor. The two-storey design also allows for pupils on both floors to access a covered outdoor learning space from their classrooms. A main part of the design is the relationship between formal and informal spaces. The main classroom spaces do not have doors but instead are open to the main circulation. The changing in flooring determines the different thresholds and full height glazed screens outline the main teaching

areas. The teaching spaces extend from the classrooms into the main circulation area where a variety of different teaching methods can be carried out, from specialised learning to project based learning and formal learning. The open spaces of the school and the learning and teaching going on inside and outside of the classrooms provides a lively and vibrant school atmosphere. Lairdsland was designed as a reference school that can be used to design and build other schools in the area. The design was based on requirements from the Council and also as a response to the Scottish Curriculum for Excellence.

Fig 05. Photogaph showing the school from the Marina. (The Architect’s Journal, 2015)





Tezuka Architects, Tokyo, Japan, 2015 Fuji kindergarten is the most sought after kindergarten in the whole of Japan. This is due to its innovative design that focuses on the children and how they interact with the environment, as well as helping to enhance the Montessori teaching methodology. The Montessori methodology states that satisfaction, contentment and joy are encouraged when children are able to fully participate in daily activities individually and collectively in a

place where they can understand, engage with and control their own environment. It also encourages children to develop skills by doing activities that use the five senses and that promote movement. Tezuka architects design for the kindergarten seems to take this all into account with its simple form providing a flexible, robust and secure framework within which encourage key notions of independence and freedom, as well as promoting constant movement.

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Fig 01. Drawing showing kids playing on the roof playground

The kindergarten is designed in the shape of an oval in order to allow for a looping plan that focuses on a central activity space. This looping plan creates a continuous ring of interiors that shelter beneath a generous low-lying soffit. As the interior of the building is completely open it means that there are no dead ends or unmanageable hidden places. This was designed as a way of combating bullying as all areas of the kindergarten are in full view of each other. The internal loop is broken down into 4 segments each of which rely on low-level screens for subdivision. By allowing the kindergarten to be open, sound is free to travel throughout. While this may seem like it would cause distraction for the children it actually helps to train their ability to concentrate. It also helps to strengthen this idea of children being able to move freely around the school. The classroom


dividers are made out of a series of Paulownia boxes. Paulownia is a type of soft wood which means the children won’t hurt themselves if they fall onto them. About 600 of these feather-light timber boxes were made in four modular sizes. By creating these boxes that can be easily moved by the children it allows the pupils to have a more active role in how the classroom is arranged. As well as being used as sub dividers the boxes are also ideal for storage sitting on and climbing. As well as the internal layout of the kindergarten being open the external is composed entirely of sliding timber in order to allow the internal and external perimeter-walls to be fully retracted for 8months of the year. This provides seamless continuity between inside and outside and encourages the children to interact with the natural environment.


Fig 02. Left: Photograph of children using inside and outside space

Fig 03. Right: Photograph of roof at night

The most interesting part of the school is its roof. The flat roof provides extensive external space which resembles a racetrack and is frequently used as one, with some children doing up to 30 laps a day (about 5km). Projecting through the roof deck are 3 preserved Zelkova trees which are about 25meters tall. The trees are used as anchors that bring natural light and air into

the centre of the building. As well as being used as anchors the trees also provide another element of play, allowing the children to climb and play around them. The roof isnt just for play and exploration however, it can also be used for assemblies and other communal gatherings. The building itself serves as a gigantic piece of play equipment.

Fig 04. Drawing of an ariel view of Fuji Kindergarten



Fig 05. Photograph of children using roof as assembly space.

Fig 06. Photograph of Children playing on Tree



Fig 07. Drawing of internal space showing tree projecting through plan

Fig 08. Roof Plan showing child movement





JM Architects, Aberdeen, 2015 Reaching completion in 2015, Brimmond Primary School is a local HUB project designed by an Edinburgh based practice - JM Architects. The design explores the relationship between formal and informal areas to create a series of ‘social spaces’ in the form of activity hubs, centralised between year groups and the school as a whole.

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As stated by the architects involved, the school was designed as series of destination, comparable to a small town or village, each linked by stimulating and useful spaces. The relatively linear plan formation is defined by the main corridor which stretches the entire length of the school. From this corridor three ‘teaching clusters’ project out at staggered intervals. The sheer simplicity of the plan makes for easy way finding yet maintains an element of adventure. The implementation of teaching clusters to divide up the school makes for interesting way for pupils to engage with other classes and years. There are a total of three clusters which are separated as follows- Junior (p1+2),

Middle (p3-5) Senior (p6+7). Each teaching cluster is defined by a centrally located activity space surrounded by classrooms on 3 sides. These teaching clusters are then connected to each other by an ‘agora’ inspired space which ensures a social connection throughout the school. By using circulation spaces to form informal gathering areas, the architects by design are producing meaningful spaces in centralised locations, thus encouraging social interaction across all age groups within the school. This becomes exponentially more important as the school population grows.

Fig 01. Teaching cluster: centralised activity space from which classrooms are accessed.



Fig 02. Ground floor plan : sketch

The conceptual application of the Ancient Greek ‘Agora’ within this school has driven a plan arrangement which clearly defines the school as a civic building through generous front of house entrance experience linked directly to the central agora. Continuing to the exterior design, landscaping around the school was also carefully considered in order to encourage a meaningful interface with the community through the provision of a civic quality outdoor space for community gatherings and events, helping to secure the school’s role in the wider community.

Fig 03. External perspective





NLE Architects, Makoko, Nigeria 2016 The Makoko floating school is a prototype building for African regions, which looks at creating permanent infrastructure that can with stand the storms and flooding which Makoko gets for 4 months of the year. Situated in a slum neighbourhood off the Lagos Lagoon, in Lagos, Nigeria, the area is in dire need of a new school. Makoko currently only has one English speaking school for its 100,000 occupants, of which is usually under water for 4 months of the year. This new school design

looks at providing free education to the children of the slums (roughly 50 students) whilst also been adaptable in order to provide a clinic, market, or events space if needed. The school is built over 3 floors, with each floor having a different function. The ground floor houses a play area while the first floor is sub-dividable allowing for up to 4 classroom spaces. The second floor contains a small workshop area. All the floors are connected by a single staircase at the side of the building.

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The Makoko floating school is a prototype building for African regions, which looks at creating permanent infrastructure that can with stand the storms and flooding which Makoko gets for 4 months of the year. Situated in a slum neighbourhood off the Lagos Lagoon, in Lagos, Nigeria, the area is in dire need of a new school. Makoko currently only has one English speaking school for its 100,000 occupants, of which is usually under water for 4 months of the year. This new school design looks at providing free education to

the children of the slums (roughly 50 students) whilst also been adaptable in order to provide a clinic, market, or events space if needed. The school is built over 3 floors, with each floor having a different function. The ground floor houses a play area while the first floor is sub-dividable allowing for up to 4 classroom spaces. The second floor contains a small workshop area. All the floors are connected by a single staircase at the side of the building.

Fig 01. Front angled view of Makoko floating school model

The innovative design of the school looks at how the building can withstand the storms and floods of the rainy season, while also been cheap and easily assembled. This is achieved by creating a half-building, half-boat like structure. The building uses a base made out of simple plastic barrels in order to keep it a float. By making a school that floats it can easily adapt when there is floors meaning the building will rise with the water levels, keeping it dry. The structure is created in a triangular profile in order to keep the school stable while is is afloat. The triangular shape also gives the building a low centre of gravity which makes the school very stable, and it will keep its balance even during the high winds of the rainy season. As well as giving the building a low centre of gravity the triangular shape also allows for 3 floors to span throughout the building, allowing 100 adults to occupy the school at once. 092.


Fig 02. Left: Side view of Makoko floating school model Fig 03. Right: Rear view of Makoko floating school model.

In order to keep the building as affordable as possible all the materials used are locally affordable. The structure was put together using wooden offcuts from a nearby sawmill. Other parts of the school are made out of locally grown bamboo. The plastic barrels used to keep the building afloat have been recycled and are readily available. As well as using local and recycled materials the architects also designed the school to be as ecofriendly as possible. This is

done by fitting PV cells to the roof in order to provide the school with electricity, as well as a rainwater catchment system which uses the barrels around the perimeter of the base to store the water. The school is also naturally ventilated and aerated. The entire school can be built by a team of local builders with no specialist craftsmen needed, making the entire building very cost effective and easily accessible.

Fig 04 . Axonometric of steel connection

The floating school of Makoko is part of a three stage project aimed at combating unpredictable climate changes and global sea level changes. Stage 2 of the project involves creating floating houses based on the same aesthetics of the school. These houses can either be attached or can float separately. Stage 3 of the project was to create a floating community. This MAKOKO FLOATING SCHOOL

however was put on hold as after only 7 months the Makoko school collapsed due to heavy rain. I feel this may have been down to the cheap and recycled materials used. While I feel the school is a very innovative idea and creates the stepping stones to combating unpredictable weather it still needs work, especially looking at the materials used and how strong they need to be. .093

In 2015 the floating school in Makoko was opened to the public, in order to provide free education to the children of the nearby slums, whilst also been able to combat the extreme climate changes Makoko suffers from. This seemed like a breakthrough until 7 months later the school collapsed due to heavy rain. The school may have collapsed due to a number of reasons; however I feel the most likely reason is due to the cheap materials that were used. In order to make the school affordable and easy to build for the poverty stricken people of Makoko off cuts from a nearby sawmill were used as well as locally grown bamboo, while I feel this was a great idea, I think it was the main reason the school collapsed. l doesn’t think the quality of materials used were strong enough to cope with the heavy rainfall Makoko experiences for 4 months of the year. I also feel the connections were made too simple and were not strong enough to support the building, even though this did mean that local builders could easily construct it. It is these main factors while I feel the school failed even though the school was built in that way in order to make it as affordable as possible. I don’t think the line between affordable and construction strength was accurately met.

Fig 05. Left: Model of timber construction

Fig 06. Right: Front angled view of Makoko model

Undeterred by this set back NLE architects went on to try and improve their design for the 15th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia. This new model is much the same as the original Makoko Floating school with it still focusing on easy fabrication and rapid assembly, however unlike the #1, the #2 uses 1 tonne of steel and 13.5 tonnes of wood. the addition of steel is what was missing from the #1 version. Two new types of steel connection were made in order to strengthen the base of the #2 so it was more fit for handing the harsh climate. As well as the addition of steel this new version also uses better quality wood, again something I feel will help a lot when dealing with the harsh climate. Not only was steel connections and better quality wood used, but better joints were engineered for the timber frame. This means again the entire structure will be stronger and less likely to collapse but takes away from the element of local builders from Makoko being able to construct it. The new #2 took only 10 days to assemble by a team of 4 builders and still uses plastic barrels to enable it to float. I feel that if steel was introduced to the Makoko project as well as better engineered joints, the school would have been much more stable. While this would drive up the cost and mean the builders would have to be more skilled, it would have been worth it in order to provide a much stronger school. 094.



Hubco + Highland Council, Inverness, 2016 This school has been built as part of the government’s Scotland’s Schools for the Future (SSF) programme. The Scottish futures trust (SFT) led the project rather than the government which created a more bureaucratic approach to design decisions and created problems throughout the school upon completion. The design

of the school was created by Hubco: a joint partnership between public and private sector organisations that sets an affordability cap for the client (highland council) and delivers ‘Value for money in new projects’ (Hubco 2016).

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In 2014 the highland council, following an inspection, concluded that the oldschool building was unsafe due to asbestos levels and therefore closed to make way for a new facility. The new building is sited adjacent to the original 70’s building and stands with a larger capacity of 1,420 pupils, it is built to accommodate for population growth in the developing catchment area. The academy opened in the summer of 2016 to create an easy transition for the students to begin the next year in a new environment. The finishing result is a school that satisfies the bear minimum in terms of educational facilities but offers up a fair amount of new technology.

Fig 01. Render of proposed school exterior (HUBCO, 2014).

However, three months after its handover the school was still experiencing unresolved snagging problems. One of which is a lack of gas to the building, affecting not only hot water systems but also lessons in science departments that require gas to advance further in the curriculum. The contractor, Morrison Construction implemented a contingency plan to minimise the impact it has on the

parts of the building that rely on gas. Despite these consequences, Morrison Construction built the school along with Hubco using the Design and Build procurement method and worked with strict guidelines and briefing outlines to quickly and efficiently build a school to accommodate the Inverness Royal Academy pupils (Council, Report 2013).

Fig 02. Left: Internal sketch of the schools foyer. Fig 03. Right: External sketch of the academy from the south.



Fig 04. Sketch of Inverness Royal Academy‘s first floor plan and its department organisation.

Fig 05. Sketch of Inverness Royal Academy‘s ground floor plan showing ASN department, central entrance points and gym hall.

Fig 06. Sketch of Inverness Royal Academy‘s long section through atrium spaces, theatre space and gym hall.

In terms of design, the school is a large 4 storey rectangular block with a central atrium that penetrates the mass and is framed by circulation that loops the school with functional spaces facing out from the wing. The school specialises in Gaelic language and therefore has a generous department dedicated to the cultural subject. It also offers an expanded version of their previous Additional Support Needs (ASN) department at ground level (fig.). The school has been a very cost effective and simple solution to a problem that was dealt with immediately. The result is a school that will suffice in its duties as an academy and excel in its role within the community.




INNOVATIVE SCHOOL DESIGNS After the individual case studies, we worked in small groups on ÂŤinnovativeÂť schools in a more detailed way. The following four schools are interesting in a way their architects developed creative solutions over structural, energetical or educational issues. For each of them, we were required to make a large scale model to understand how their structural configurations impacted their spatial organisations.




Patkau Architects, Seabird Island, Canada 1991 In The pacific northwest, approximately 120 kilometres east of Vancouver, lies Seabird Island Community: A large community consisting of residences closely knit together. The island is surrounded by the British Columbian mountain range that towers above the rivers. In the heart

of the island, community buildings thrive in a horseshoe shape, surrounding a large agricultural field. On the edge of the field stands Seabird Island school, its unique, noticeable form rounding off the north end of the community’s circle of structures.

Charles Follett // Rikki Geddes // Nathan Noble .0101

Fig 01. Shingles upon the gym/ community hall exterior that face the south sunlight.

The school is closely rooted to the culture of the Seabird Island Band, which is a self-sustaining, self-governing community organisation that impacts on the school. Without the Band and its leadership, the society’s ethnic history would diminish. Currently, the Band has over 900 members that offer a variety of services to the Salish people and are still looking to better the living environment within Seabird Island. One of those services is the delivery of education to the youth of the island. The latest annual report from the Seabird Island Band explains that the school’s performance continues to improve; from the 210 students that attend, ranging from kindergarten to grade 12, the highest number of graduates to date has been reached. The school was built to house a curriculum that enforces traditional values and encourages students to learn the native language of Halq’eméylem, with excellent results.

Fig 02. Seabird Island School in context, mimicking its environment.

Fig 03. Seabird Island Community School site plan.



In 1987 the school programme was revised and modified to suit modern-day society. However, the revised school programme was deemed to become a ‘White education’ claiming the demise of traditional teaching methods and cultural representation, however the system in place flourished in the community and within the next two decades the curriculum once again moulded to enhance the expression of their culture. The result was an efficient programme that is delivered by BC certified members of the Band.

Fig 04. Constructional model of Seabird Island School’s intricate roof geometry.

Fig 05. Colonade that separates the eaching gardens .

The building was to reflect newfound principles that consider other languages as well as their own mother tongue, Halq’eméylem and to replicate the Salish vernacular. The community still, to this day value the school building as an important asset in their ambitions to stay true to their historic background and traditional values. Seabird Island School is used frequently out of term hours and can be accessed by the members of the community and the band with ease. Patkau architects, located in Vancouver, were chosen for the project due to their understanding of Western architectural heritage and its simplicity. The practice sympathised with the client whose culture is private in certain aspects and important to their community in so many ways. The format of their buildings can be described as distinctive, using diluted elements of the European tradition with its well-developed language and grammar while maintaining the native Canadian architectural dialogue. The architects leading the project considered the mountain range that frames the island and wanted to inhabit the site with ‘an animated personality, something that could be perceived on a naive level as a ‘being’ of some kind’ (John Patkau and Patricia Patkau, 1994). SEABIRD ISLAND COMMUNITY SCHOOL


The school visually expresses the history of the Salish people and encases a safe place for the Seabird Island Band to organise events and communicate their knowledge to the younger generations. The school serves as more than just an educational facility for the children of the island, it brings the Salish people together for community gatherings and visiting activities. The project has created an implicit urban space where none exists and interacts with the severity of its environment through its extravagant roof structure.

Fig 06. Seabird Island School Plan: central entrance between teaching gardens opening up to the main circulation space betweent the east (kindergarten & primary) and west (secondary) wings. (Manon Chiorri, Marine de Carbonnieres).

Its construction began in 1988 (proceeding the new curriculum) and with a major input from the Band members the project was completed in 1991. Seabird Island Band oversaw the project from inception to its reality in order to maintain the school’s identity: a protected cultural hub for interaction and the passing of knowledge. The building holds one kindergarten classroom to the east end of the school to make use of the colossal porch that protects the younger pupils from harsh weather, as well as a further five primary school classrooms. In the west, there are four secondary classrooms split from the younger grades by a public entrance space.

The impressive roof displays large geometric volumes that rise and fall, from the lowest point in the south, where communal area is, to the generously spaced sports hall in the north. Because of the size of the site and the nature of the community the school houses both elementary level students and secondary. The classrooms are orientated along the south facing façade and defined by the large porch element. In the east, there Is also a public library for visitors as well as a mixed-use space to enforce the ideologies of the Seabird Island Band. The gym hall in the north provides shelter to the kindergarten segment in the east, which makes the most of the morning sunlight.

Fig 07. Section through gymhall, circulation and reception spaces (Manon Chiorri, Marine de Carbonnieres)



The Design of the school derives from its orientation in the context as it relates to the mountain range by manipulating wind movement. During the winter season the shape of the building diverts the cold wind that flows through the valley and mediates it so that the microclimate in the southern fields, play areas and teaching gardens is more comfortable when occupied. Patricia and John Patkau have mentioned that they began the design approach by prioritizing brief requirement spaces in various massing volumes such as the gym hall and the

teaching block, all the while rationalising the structure. The innovative structure used in this building follows heavy timber post and beam construction derived from the traditional techniques and erected by Band members. The monolithic paralam columns and beams use steel connections and sit upon reinforced concrete grade-beam and pile foundations. This large-scale construction project involved as much of the community as possible to integrate people to the new ideas that encompass the school.

Externally the walls and roofs are clad in cedar shingles, the traditional cladding material of the region. As the shingles weather, they will shade from a soft silver-grey into a natural red-brown colour depending on its exposure to the elements and surface orientation toward the sun. Patkau architects carefully modelled the intricate roof structure before continuing the project and sought out to make the mass seem as much like a sculptural element as it was a functioning architectural piece. The members of the Band have responded well to not just the functionality of the project, but also its inventive body and form. The Seabird island school is an abstract sculpture that adorns the culturally considerate community and pronounces its identity like an alpine metaphor in the British Columbian Valley.

Fig 08. Construction model displaying the east porch roof system that shelters the children form harsh conditions. SEABIRD ISLAND COMMUNITY SCHOOL




Foster + Partners, Fréjus, 1993 The Lycèe Albert Camus is an innovative school in the south of France for students entering their final three years of education. Considered as an exemplar for polyvalent schooling in the country, this was introduced as a new means of education with the concept of blurring the gap between school and the workplace. Whilst standard subjects were still to be taught, vocational

studies were also on offer through skills based activities such as joinery, computer technology, plumbing and cooking. The school’s design challenges the preconceptions of the established educational building to create a flexible and open structure. The Fréjus lycée prompted research into the vernacular architecture of the Mediterranean, with its tradition of high thermal mass and double roofs.

Karen Reid // Rolands Ziva // Joe Leask .0107

Education is a non-political motive in terms of governmental control of schooling in France. It is simply seen as a given. However, this is not to say that political capital cannot be made out of constructing a new school building as in this instance the mayor at the time, Lèotard, saw the introduction of a new school development to the town of Frèjus as a catalyst for regeneration. Not only this, but this came at a time where the country had a deep commitment to provident state education and also state-sponsored architecture. What you see at the Lycèe Albert Camus is dignified public architecture, designed elegantly and within a sensible economic scale. The efficient nature of the building and its construction has attracted the eyes of politicians and educationalists across France and is seen as a possible prototype for a new generation of ‘lycèes polyvalents’. Beyond this, it has put the sleepy town of Frèjus on the map and with it, attracted quality investment to the area. As a place, there is nothing exceptional about Frèjus. Set on the Côte d’Azur, its Mediterranean climate is benign and ideal for tourism. Founded by the Romans in the first century BC as a staging post and port along the Aurelian Way, the environs are scattered with fragments of Ancient Roman civilization; aqueduct, a theatre and several public baths. The town had a sudden growth in population after years of stagnation; development was focused away from the beachfront and industry began to sprawl inland and outwards. Intolerable strain was placed on the existing educational facilities; the need for a new Lycèe Polyvalent Règional provided an ideal opportunity for a major piece of architectural patronage. In François Lèotard, Frèjus had the benefit of a powerful and ambitious mayor. Foster & Partners were approached to submit an entry as part of a competition bid, with an interesting brief to indirectly percept this public building as an economic stimulant without creating some sort of misplaced symbol. The building must have a sense of eloquence of a modern severity of line and volume, which renders an incisive image. Norman Foster’s early sketches envisaged the school as an inhabited landscape through which a variety of activities could flow. A school building that would be open-planned, filled with light, democratic and flexible, without corridors or institutional barriers. The Frèjus Lycèe was a great opportunity to put many of these groundbreaking ideas into practice. 0108.


Fig 01. Portrait sketch of the school’s namesake, Albert Camus, by artist; Shoey Nam. Albert Camus was a French philosopher, author, and journalist based in France. His views contributed to the rise of the philosophy known as absurdism. He wrote in his essay The Rebel that his whole life was devoted to opposing the philosophy of nihilism while still delving deeply into individual freedom. He won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1957.

The Polyvalent Lycée The main institutional structures of educational organization and curricula have not changed markedly in as much as institutions are still for the most part differentiated by type. However, the boundaries between school institutions and the workplace have often become more fluid as the search for greater flexibility and relatedness has led to increasing multi-institutional collaboration. There has been some limited but significant combination of institutional types as in the English tertiary college, which combines school sixth-forms with further education colleges and in the French Lycèe Polyvalent, which combines general and technical Lycèe’s. This type of education structure is often combined with professional work experience as a further required component of vocational and academic training. The school itself was a fairly new type in France at the time – what was called a Lycèe Polyvalent,

which means that it was really a vocational college, not dissimilar to modern academies popular within the United Kingdom today. When the building was first opened, it is claimed a school of this nature was without an equivalent. It combines academic and vocational courses for students between the ages of fifteen and twenty-one. In Britain such an interface between the worlds of employment and school might well be named after a commercial sponsor, but it was decided that this school should be named in memory of Albert Camus (Fig.1). One of the vocations taught was cooking, and in the finished building there is actually a very good restaurant. On Wednesdays, guests can turn up at the school, look at a menu, and get served a really delicious meal, cooked by the pupils. Further to cooking, students could undertake vocations in technical and other such skill based subjects as joinery, electrical engineering and plumbing, to name just a few.

Fig 02. 1.20 Scale model of the school. Section taken through one half of the southern classroom wing.



The Design “It is difficult to pick apart the process of design. But perhaps it is important to state the obvious – to say that the structure is going to be influenced by the geography, even the climate of a place as well as the needs of the people who generated the building. How else could you explain the big span structural steel ‘trees’ of Stansted happening at the same time as the concrete vaults of the Lycèe in Frèjus. Another way of looking at the structure is that it is one of severely tightly integrated systems. For example, in Frèjus the thermal mass of the concrete vaults is as much as part of the ecology of the building, as it is the essence of the structure.” – Norman Foster, 2005. Developed in response to its site and to a low-energy concept for it’s climate, the school’s linear plan was designed to keep active building services to a minimum. Interestingly, in paring down these services, the most effective ecological diagram was seen to correspond to the most obvious social diagram, with a linear 0110.

‘street’ forming the heart of the school both as a natural air movement system and a central circulation space for people. Bisected by an entrance hall, the street, at this point, forms a kind of village square, with its own café and casual seating, acting as a focal point for the students. Fresh air is pulled through the street, while the layering of the roof, with a light metal shield protecting the concrete vaults from the sun, also encourages a cooling flow of air – a technique found in traditional Arabic architecture. Further enhancing the natural ecology of the building, a solar-chimney effect allows warm air to rise through ventilation louvres, whilst brises-soleils along the southern elevation provide shade The impressive social strategy of the scheme, the central street, which is essential to the natural air circulation system and triumphs as a key meeting and focal point within the building. The lack of ohysical barriers gives the aura of inclusivity for all within and encourages interaction and social spontaneity. PRECEDENT I SCHOOL

Fig 03. Cross section showing the different use of each classroom space

Construction & Material Quality Looking at the completed school – over 240 meters long – it is difficult to believe that it took only eleven, not the expected twelve months to build, and came in 10 percent under an already tight budget. Economies were achieved by keeping the plan simple, minimizing the number of finishes, and maximizing repetition. The double-curving, in-situ structure – with its shallow concrete vaults arching gently out in graceful curves from the circulation spine – looks positively luxurious, but thanks to investment in a quality stainlesssteel shuttering and tests to find the optimum mix, it proved to be economical in practice. Contrast with the monochromatic materials palette is provided by timber panels, which glow orange against the concrete. These hard surfaces are ideal thermally but prove to be acoustically resonant. Noise reverbs around the street between classes but it can also be acknowledged that students revel in the feeling of bustle during their breaks. The students LYCEE ALBERT CAMUS

clothing provides a mix of colour as they rush to reach the next class. “Because it is a school building filled with young kids the school is incredibly tough – I mean prison quality in its robustness. But this mandate for no mess, unbreakable interiors also produced great design – the toilets especially, I think, they are some of the best we have ever done. No frills whatsoever but beautiful.” – Mouzhan Majidi of Foster + Partners, 2005 “One of the best bits of the completed building is the concrete which is absolutely spectacular. The French really know their concrete. The contractor, a company called Sedatra Nord France, got their best man to come down to Frèjus for four or five months and live on the site. He lovingly checked every shutter so that the final cast pieces came out just perfectly. I remember Tony Fitzpatrick from Arup coming down to site shortly afterwards and declaring the concrete the best he had ever seen anywhere.” - Tim Quick formely of Foster + Partners, 2005 .0111

Environmental Performance Timely in its environmental concerns, Frèjus is timeless in its concern for the perennial values of Western architecture. More clearly perhaps than any previous Foster project, the design of this school was driven by the environmental concerns that have come to occupy such an important place in the practice’s thoughts. However, unlike so many buildings - ubiquitos in the 1990’s which seemed determined to flaunt their environmental credentials to the detriment of other architectural values, here Foster addresses the challenge of passive energy design with an understated confidence that suggests, quite rightly, that this is simply a normal part of building design in the era of global warming. The only obvious ‘environmental’ gesture is the layered array of louvres ranged dramatically along the southern elevation (Fig.5). Seen from the first floor classrooms they remind you of the ailerons of a Boeing 747, slung low for landing. They also work architecturally in other ways, striating the view into horizontal slices, rendering particular the view of the landscape - and

dappling the terraces with light to create a habitable threshold before the land and the sea beyond. The brise-soleil are designed to block the high summer sun, but allow winter sunlight penetration. It is known that on warm, sunny days, the students are encouraged outside to learn under the cantilevering fins making this area a pleasant outdoor extension to the common classroom. Fresh air is admitted through opening windows in the perimeter and flows through the double-height central street, which acts as a ‘solar chimney’, expelling warm air at high level through vents in the clerestory. The repeating white concrete barrel vaults provide the thermal mass that helps to keep the interior of the school cool in summer. The upper tier of the double roof deflects the majority of direct sunlight shining upon the concrete structure, thus minimising the footprint able to capture the warm sun glare and store its energy. The curved element hovering above the vaulted element also encourages cool air to flow in-between the two entities, again aiding in the cooling process of the building and sweeping the warm air out of the central clerestory spine.

Fig 04. Axonometric sketch of a typical bank of louvres



Fig 05. Left: Interior view of one of the classrooms Fig 06. Right: View of the classrooms from the internal ‘street’

The Classroom Foster’s initial ideas for the school are reminiscent of a seminal unbuilt Foster project of the 1960s: the Newport School. With its deep-plan teaching accommodation organized around a central ‘street’ (Fig.2), the Newport School was the first to explore in a British context the ideas pioneered by the Californian SCSD schools. These ideas would then in turn become the hallmark of the acclaimed ‘Hampshire Schools’ built during Sir Colin Stansfield Smith’s tenure as Hampshire County Architect, and later would underpin Foster’s strategy for the series of City Academies the practice began building at the turn of the century. However, the French educational system , more formal than its AngloSaxon counterparts, demands more traditional classrooms rather than the flexible, universal space envisaged at Newport. This is where the polyvalent approach can be seen in design and not just in the vocational nature of the school’s teaching. It is recognized that the classrooms appear to be very basic in size, organization and decoration and stretch two long repetitive wings, but this approach must be considered more closely. A space doesn’t simply have to be physically and forcefully flexible, instead it can be a cradle where LYCEE ALBERT CAMUS

within which many different activities are allowed to occur. Flexibility can be interpreted in several ways. The most common approach is where spaces are made physically flexible via moving walls. However, flexibility can refer to program or use and can be accommodated in a space that is fixed. The most overlooked idea is polyvalence where spaces are open to multiple interpretations and ways of being appropriated. This is a kind of flexibility, which is about the way people use a space individually or interpret or adapt it for themselves. While many students reach for the moveable wall answer first, it may be that another type of flexibility is more appropriate. Two great examples of this can be seen in the work of Herman Hertzberger. The central hall staircase in the Apollo Schools functions both as a circulation space and gathering hall for student assemblies. This achieves flexible usage without requiring any moving parts. Another project that demonstrates polyvalent space is the Central Beheer offices. The complex was deliberately left unfinished so that the users could adapt and complete the spaces to suit their working needs and reflect their individual personalities.




Vin Varavarn Architects, Thaïland, 2012 In the wake of the Mae Lao earthquake – registering at 6.3 Richter scale that hit the Chiang Rai Province in the North of Thailand, that destroyed 73 Schools, disaster-relief charity ‘Design for Disasters’ launched a rebuilding programme. This involved nine different Thai Architects being asked to design earth-quake resistant schools within a week. With over two thousand students displaced of a place to learn it was decided that the most effect areas would receive a school. This is how the Bangkok firm Vin Varavarn Architects found themselves designing a secondary school for Baan Hauy Sarn Yaw. This would be inhabited by children from three different tribes..

Mariem Ahmed // Julie Neilson // Arsène Frère // Clément Guérard-Ortelli .0115

Fig 01. Picture of the school in its context.

The site that was given is a sloped plot that was originally home to a school. It was important to design a place for learning and a place that can act as a place of safety. It was the architects aim, therefore, to design an atmosphere that would enliven the children. The chosen shape is an elongated pentagonal volume that holds three classrooms with two entrances. The steel structure is placed on stilts to help stand against earthquakes and to provide a multifunctional, external space sheltered from the harsh sun.

Fig 02. Left: Picture of the inside of a classroom.

Fig 03. Right: Front picture of the school.

Fig 04. Construction details.



Fig 05. Technical section showing the different roles of the roofing.

The classrooms are clad in fibre cement and bamboo which has been selected due to its low cost and weight. The lightweight materials help to reduce the horizontal momentum caused by the weight which reduces the impact and damage of an earthquake. Natural materials were important in two factors: firstly to substitute expensive modern equivalents, secondly to harmonise the context to the architecture. Another aspect of the design was to expose the structure; this conveys a sense of solidity and safety. It also reduces any unnecessary finishing costs. It is also important to note that the pitch of the roof has been designed to hoard off the monsoon rain that Thailand receives. It has also been projected out from the building to avoid the need for external walls which helps to keep cost down. The open windows then create cross ventilation at sitting level creating a nice environment for the children.



Fig 06. 1:20 scale section model of the school.

The classrooms are clad in fibre cement and bamboo which has been selected due to its low cost and weight. The lightweight materials help to reduce the horizontal momentum caused by the weight which reduces the impact and damage of an earthquake. Natural materials were important in two factors: firstly to substitute expensive modern equivalents, secondly to harmonise the context to the architecture. Another aspect of the design was to expose the structure; this conveys a sense of solidity and safety. It also reduces any unnecessary finishing costs. It is also important to note that the pitch of the roof has been designed to hoard off the monsoon rain that Thailand receives. It has also been projected out from the building to avoid the need for external walls which helps to keep cost down. The open windows then create cross ventilation at sitting level creating a nice environment for the children.



Fig 07. Exploded structural axonometric.





SOM, New York, 2015 P.S. 62 is widely recognised as the first net-zero-energy school in New York and joining a select few schools that share the same accolade internationally. This experimental project pushes renewable energy to its technological limits in an effort to explore a balance between a functional school design and a very

precise and well-engineered building at the forefront of sustainability. Designing a building to generate as much energy as it consumes is at the very least an ambitious goal that fundamentally starts with the design team and a conglomerate of consultants.

Hannah Skyner // Yevgen Gozhenko // Stewart Rees .0121

Externally, the most visible feature of the school’s sustainability is the hundreds of photovoltaic panels that line the buildings cantilevered roof and south façade. These panels, actively convert solar energy in to electricity, effectively producing enough to sustain the school. The panels are integral part of the design and to ensure maximum efficiency they were placed at varying angles and heights, ultimately defining the roof’s profile and resulting in a 35% increase in efficiency compared to a flat roof design. This is further supported

by a manipulation of the building’s massing and orientation onsite with consideration of the sun path maximising electricity production. Whilst the PV panels were designed to generate a significant amount of energy, this output is dependent on time of year with much higher outputs during the summer. Subsequently, to achieve net-zero-energy, electrical consumption was required to be controlled and minimized though a careful building specification and by educating the users on how to use the building.

Fig 01. The Kathleen Grimm School for Leadership and Sustainability - south facade.



Moreover, this led to various logistical design solutions driven by the need to reduce energy usage and in this sense daylighting played a key role in defining the building’s form. The height of the building was limited to 2/3 storeys with the theory that this was the maximum allowance that would still allow daylight to penetrate to the deepest areas of each floor with the support of a large central courtyard. These efficiencies are furthered by orientating the building slightly off the north-south axis of the site, thus allowing the sunlight to be captured though out the day. To deal with direct sunlight and overheating on the south façade, they used extremely deep reveals and split the windows in two row. This solution takes away majority of the direct sun before 9 am and after the school starts, the classrooms are filled with even light throughout. This level of fine tuning is evident throughout the building, with strategically placed skylights and clerestory windows, sloped ceilings, and light-reflecting surfaces with the ultimate intention of negating the need for artificial lighting. The success of this detailed and logical approach to daylighting is supported by testing that showed the school’s south-facing classrooms achieve 90 percent daylight autonomy and many of the corridors reach up to 98 percent.

Fig 02. South Facade Study 15 ° - Direct light penetrates the classroom.

Fig 03. South Facade Study 25 ° - Direct light get defused due two rows of windows and deep facade.

In a further attempt to regulate energy usage, the school makes use of a system of underground geothermal wells drilled beneath the surface. By drilling deep into bedrock, this system leverages the earth’s constant temperature to draw in heat in the winter and transfer heat out in the summer allowing for highly effective natural heating and cooling of the building. This ‘green’ approach to building heating is a highly effective alternative to traditional heating, with the flexibility to manage heating and cooling whilst saving significant energy costs. The efficiency of this

Fig 04. South Facade Study 35 ° - Direct light disappears and the room becomes evenly light. THE KATHLEEN GRIMM SCHOOL


pioneering heating system is highly dependent on the buildings envelope and thus a combination of high-performance materials and carefully designed details is used to manage the heating efficiency. The first fundamental key to lowering energy consumption through building fabric is the use of insulation. As a result, P.S. 62 is heavily insulated throughout with recycled plastic and all windows are triple glazed, minimising heat loss. Supporting the insulation is a continuous layer of vapour barrier lined internally. Through reliance on effective onsite construction, this layer ensures a virtually airtight construction, keeping the envelope free from condensation and allowing the effective implementation of heat recovery in the ventilation system. In a net-0 building, the careful design of details is crucial and cold bridging needs to be limited which led to the use of 30-foot-tall concrete panels


Fig 05. Sustainability section - south facade.


Fig 06 Sustainability section north facade.

1. Clerestory Windows at South Facade. 2. Displacement Induction Units. 3. Classrooms (90% Daylight Autonomy - South Classrooms) 4. Double Height Corridors (98% Daylight Autonomy) 5. Sloped Ceilings Reflect Natural Light 6. Photovoltaic Panels (1,900 KBTU Generated Per Year) 7. Classrooms (60% Dailight Autonomy - North Classrooms) 8. Large Windows at North Facade 9. High Effieciency Envelope (0.01% Infiltration Rate) 10. Green Roof 11. Geothermal Wells for Cooling and Heating



on the façade. These panels span the entire height of the building, preventing any form of anchoring along the buildings height, an example of an ingenious solution to eliminate this repeating cold bridging element. ntire height of the building, preventing any form of anchoring along the buildings height, an example of an ingenious solution to eliminate this repeating cold bridging element. With the sum of all these design and engineering efforts vastly reducing the school’s energy consumptions to approximately 50% of a typical school, the design team were in search of a way to further reduce this amount. They discovered that half of the now reduced energy

usage was being used for services whilst the other half was essentially a result of users and an indifferent approach to sustainability. This led to a programme revolving around educating the users- both staff and students on effective practices and behavioural habits which would greatly assist in achieving the school’s net-0 goal. This process began by examining and understanding current sources of energy drains and exploring issues and the reasoning for it. They found that it was commonplace for a classroom to have a printer and a fridge, due to poor communal services. By realizing these issues and considering them in the design stage they essentially laid the foundations for the sustainable use of the school.

Fig 07. North Facade Axo: - Over 9 meters vertical span - Top and bottom support only - No puncture of air/vapor barrier






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