The brief from the prestigious Qatar Foundation called for the masterplanning of two new all-through Academies, each for 1,600 children, on two very different sized sites.
These new schools will pioneer a bilingual education programme with half the lessons in Arabic and half in English. Space standards were based on American education standards. The schools were subdivided into junior and senior schools, each with its own dining, sports and other specialist facilities. A Child Care Centre provides crèche care, while extensive community facilities are planned to cater for sports, education and retail services operating independently from the school.
Four key design principles guided our masterplans:
- The first was to develop a learning centred modular approach, whereby educational building ‘blocks’ would form flexible learning clusters that could vary in size and organisation depending on the site, school, department and/or year group. Each cluster created a family of teaching spaces around a shared open space, making the most of external and niche spaces.
- The second design principle was to create a campus inspired by Qatar’s history and future, drawing on traditional building elements from the region interpreted in a contemporary way.
- The third principle was to create a series of linked settings for an holistic learning and growing journey for each student. This idea of progression drove the masterplanning at the large scale and the detailed planning at the small scale.
- Our fourth design principle was to create a strong connection between buildings, landscape and nature to create a sustainable learning landscape. The ‘building blocks’ were placed and oriented to maximise the potential for using natural ventilation during the winter months, the potential for wind towers, positioning and size of courtyards, daylight and shading. The teaching cluster model is inspired by structures in nature, such that the modular blocks are imagined as components which can adjust to fit tailored requirements of departments or school age groups.