Where Learning is All Fun and Games
Orient Occident Atelier designs The Adventurous Global School in Cambodia that is enveloped in a grid-like structure creating a versatile and flexible learning space.
The Adventurous Global School is designed to be enveloped by a grid wall, a double layer steel frame with local wood plates, allows the re-configuration of the openings, shelves and lockers.The success of the school’s design is reflected in the beaming faces of the students who seem to love to spend time in this playground of materials. The school is like a board game with boxes that can be climbed through as a play corner and sometimes the box arranged as grids have a function to serve like being a door or a locker, opening up the entire space making the school seem like a structure that is exposed inside out. It also provides storage and even vertical circulation. The open structure means that the relationship between the interior and exterior can be customized by the users and other villagers can see inside the space. Orient Occident Atelier wanted to engage the teachers and students in the design and reconfiguration of the school in order to create teaching and learning spaces which best suit their interests and curriculum needs.
The school transforms the construction site itself into a learning kit. The building is not only a traditional lecture space but a proactive space for learning design, construction and spatial creativity. During construction, students will take part in some manageable design. Local kids explore new uses of space by action. They climb the “Griddy” construction as though it’s a jungle gym.
The school is a versatile architectural building envelope. There are spatial flexibilities to the end-users‚ the “Griddy” detail ironmongeries allow the re-configuration of the openings, shelves and lockers. The wall is a double layer steel frame with local wood plates allowing storage and even vertical circulation. The ground classrooms are seamlessly connected with adjacent houses and fields, thereby catering to different events, learning activities and class sizes. The relation between interior and exterior can thus be customized by the users in the future. It’s a welcoming space in which other villagers and students can always see what’s going on and join the classes.
The design utilizes vernacular methodologies and material. Bricks, GMS, and wood were discovered from the region which are common building materials. Levitated concrete structure mitigates flooding problem and preserves the traditional Cambodian ground floor open space. Local construction methodology was used – cost-saving and also empowers people with local skills. The use of the local construction methodologies enabled cost-savings and empowered people with local skills to help build with efficiency.
The project preserves the village context with a bottom-up design approach. The school development triggers various improvements for the rural village.
“We believe in the power of architecture enriching the lives of those improvised. The school design empowers the teachers and students to constantly engage in design, redesign and utilize the teaching and learning spaces which best suit their interests and curriculum needs. The school embodies a versatile architectural building envelope named “Griddy”. After the school was set up, more power supply, tuck shops, water filtration system were set up around. The building is not merely a cluster of classrooms but a social hub where the provision of education, sanitation, retail, community infrastructure, gathering space, etc. could be possible, hence improving daily lives of the villagers. Over the course of three years, it has attracted dozens of volunteers to help build and teach at the site,” says Magic Kwan, one of the two principal designers of OOAM, “The land is not big and this is not a regular school. There are only a few classrooms. It is After School. Let the children go back to school and learn more.”
Kenrick Wong and Magic Kwan designed two plans, which were originally floor-standing. Later, they talked to the villagers to find out that the villagers were afraid of flooding, so they improved into the current “off-ground” school buildings. Magic says: “When the students and local villagers are involved in the construction process, the design grows organically.”
The success of the design shines through the eyes of those who uses the building and here, in the innocent smiles and few-spirited laugh emancipating from the school premises stand as a testimony to the success of this open school.
Project Name: Adventurous Global School
Firm Location: Hong Kong
Completion Year: 2017
Gross Built Area: 400 square meters
Design Principal: Kenrick Wong, Magic Kwan
Video link: https://youtu.be/nKItyyNu3yQ
Design Team: Kenrick Wong, Magic Kwan, Christie Yeung, Jasmine Chan
Clients: Adventurous Global Schools
Collaborators: PTD Cambodia