Open Air     

Concept design for new primary school in Dublin, Ireland                          

Duiker’s Open Air School, built in Amsterdam in 1921 and still in use today, is the starting point of our design. It creates a generous school world set within a dense urban street pattern where multi-level classrooms share large learning terraces on every floor, open to the air, with each protecting the terrace below from rain and sun. Like this iconic school, ours is modern, optimistic and functional; it is also child-scaled, child-like in its clarity and intimate in its core.

Our design makes a school that feels like the inside of a large family house centred on a grand stairwell, sitting in its own town garden with bountiful terraces on every level that join adjacent classrooms arranged like the petals of a flower. In this radial arrangement, learning spaces on each floor remain intimate in scale and full of daylight, to nurture all of the more than seven hundred children generously.

The plan is made up of modular petals, which we call Class Base Equivalents (CBEs). These allow the combination and ongoing future recombination of clustered spaces of differing size suitable for large or small groups, for different activities and even for different constituencies of users within the larger school. This means that the design is truly adaptable.

This modular approach is capable of forming schools within schools and overriding conventional, often fixed or polarised definitions of: mainstream and special; specific and general; pupil and teacher; teaching and learning; inside and outside. The whole of the main body of the school is formed from thirty-two of these CBEs, which can be used singularly, paired across a corner of the building or along one side, or a combination to form a threesome, or as octet on a single floor.

Service: Creative Discipline with Akiboye Conolly Architects

Location: Dublin, Eire

Client: Department of Education and Skills

Cost: £tbc

Dates: 2015

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