What would a non-site-specific school design process look like? Considering all schools have the same basic programmatic requirements, is there a flexible universal system that can be designed? Can we work with a set of basic parameters to generate a form that can be adapted to new contexts? How will future schools look like? With the universal access to education issue in mind, these are the questions that we asked ourselves when we took on this exercise.
The concept of modularity was instrumental to develop a design with an ambiguous site. We used the hexagonal prism as the base of this experiment. The module can be independently created, repeated, and connected to the other modules offering ultimate flexibility to suit various plots and different construction phasing requirements. Future phases are simple additions of the base “building block” to the existing structure. The modules are repeatedly stacked, rotated and connected, sometimes directly and in other instances via ‘connectors’ to create different and interesting spaces around the school campus. Outdoor spaces are created by eliminating modules or by arranging them in a way that creates courtyards or voids.
Providing a sense of enclosure while keeping a connectivity to the outside is essential for optimal learning. The space assignments took that into consideration optimizing daylighting and views in all classrooms and the majority of other spaces; especially those used for learning. It was ensured that circulation was continuous and optimized with no dead ends. Corridors regularly open up to bigger spaces which are occasionally used for reading nooks and gathering spaces. While entry and exit to the school campuses and to the classroom blocks are controlled, the majority of spaces open up to outward views.
A skin of solar panels that are rotatable on a frame was also introduced to generate energy while shading external spaces. It also creates a mesmerizing aesthetic skin from aerial and ground views.
Future schools will move from the traditional teaching methods to a more collaborative environment that is not centered around teaching but rather around learning. They will rely on collaborative work as opposed to isolated efforts; on real life experiences as opposed to artificial content; on information exchange as opposed to information delivery.
Ministry of Education