How should one design an environment for learning that is both comfortable and inspirational? Plan Architect offers a lesson in modernising the vernacular with several distinctive structures that sit in harmonious conversation with one another.
9 February, 2018
Bangkok-based Plan Architect was tasked to design Phase 2 of the Singapore International School of Bangkok (SISB) for its secondary school students. Their response is an eye-catching series of buildings that eschew drab corridors and cookie-cutter building blocks.
Six new buildings sit on 3.6 acres of land around a football field. The auditorium and creative arts centre, and sports complex, separated by a tree-lined thoroughfare, anchors the new and old, being situated next to the phase one buildings. Next to these are the swimming pool and secondary school with the male and female dormitories edging the site.
The more intimate scale of a series of smaller structures versus one large building came about from central city planning regulations that disallow buildings in this area to be larger than 10,000 square metres. This has worked well to the advantage of the school. With thoughtful placement and unique features, the buildings make for passive wayfinding for students, staff and visitors alike, and form an inspiring backdrop for the daily activities for school life to play out against.
The auditorium building heralds the school’s driveway, making a welcoming statement with an extended, canary yellow portal. Its snaking side profile made with aluminium composite panels contrasts with the adjacent sports complex’s rhythmic facade of angled panels that lets indirect light into the building. The curves continue into the 400-seater auditorium with dramatic curvilinear walls made with local red brick.
Concrete breeze blocks of different patterns representing the diversity of the student body cap the short ends of the building. This material occurs throughout – as swimming pool fencing, for instance – tying the different buildings together visually while offering functional aspects of sun shading and privacy.
In front of the secondary school is a grandstand designed for formal and informal gatherings. Behind this, the building’s main staircase is exposed, rising up as a visual spectacle of movement while working as an indoor-outdoor connector.
Throughout, it is evident the architecture is designed to work in tune with the local climate. “Tropical design is the very first thing we give priority to,” says project architect Jittnun Jithpratuck.
While many institutions are designed today to be fully air-conditioned, the strength of the architecture here is the abundance of techniques employed to shelter users from the harsh weather while not distancing them from nature. For instance, the dormitories are designed for natural ventilation and illumination, with a skylight in the centre court filling the corridors and common spaces with light.
Datums such as large roof overhangs – the secondary school for instance – and the porous concrete breezeblock walls result in passive comfort. The way this is done with a distinctively contemporary architecture puts this project in a class of its own.
Interior and landscape design by The Beaumont Partnership Co. Ltd.
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