We have developed a modern, energy efficient and inspired school building with the dual purpose of an educational facility and community center. We began by creating a simple rectangular structure, which was then eroded spatially by two courtyards one external and one internal. The courtyards break down the overall scale of the building by bringing light, space and greenery into an otherwise large building shell. These large open spaces act as anchors to the program.
The open courtyard or sensory garden allows the center of the building to be light-filled and open, classrooms are then organized around this element. As a counterpoint to this open space, a second enclosed courtyard or atrium acts as a naturally lit, multipurpose place of assembly. Both core elements are critical to the building’s organization, function, and aesthetic and embody the principals around which the school is designed. These are the heart and soul of the school.
The community can further benefit by the use of this large multi-functioning space for public meetings, fairs or other events. The building concept and typology can be easily transferred and modified to other sites addressing the idea of “flexibility of reproduction” requested by the Department of Education and Skills.
The Kingswood site consists predominantly of low-rise, low-density, residential housing. The site is unique in that a stream divides it and the topography rises steeply towards the north. We located the school on the higher elevation to act as a landmark or beacon for the area, while also establishing an important street presence. Kingswood Avenue provides the main access to the school and a parking area is discreetly nestled among planted trees adjacent to the school. The lateral axis organizes the site by establishing a pedestrian path to the neighboring school, and by creating connections to the network of pedestrian entry points throughout the community.
The Kingswood School was also developed to meet Passive House design criteria. The building and roof are clad with prefabricated insulated metal panels. These panels are extremely long-lasting and durable. They require almost no maintenance and meet current passive thermal performance requirements. This construction strategy provides a low-cost efficient system for future school prefabrication.