Category Archives: educational

High School Extension with “Crinkled Wall”

High School Extension with "Crinkled Wall" in Kufstein, Austria, by Johannes Wiesflecker and Karl-Heinz Klopf, 2012

Photograph by David Schreyer

Paper is a suitable metaphor for knowledge, considering how ideas have been expressed and shared via books and other paper media for centuries. Even as digital technologies are supplanting books, newspaper, and magazines as the preferred means of sharing information, paper still plays a large role in learning. We write on paper, we draw on paper, we still read things on paper, and we throw paper away. In this sense, especially the latter case, it is appropriate that artist Karl-Heinz Klopf has contributed a "Crinkled Wall" (commissioned by BIG Art) to the High School Extension in Kufstein designed by Johannes Wiesflecker.

Photograph by David Schreyer

Photograph by David Schreyer

The location of the Crinkled Wall is strategic. It sits perpendicular and adjacent to the street, giving the school a distinctive public face; it faces an open space to ensure it is visible from a distance; and it faces south, shielding some of the classrooms from direct sunlight (they gain sunlight from the sides, one of which is angled in the tapered plan to capture some direct light from the south).

Photograph by David Schreyer

Photograph by David Schreyer

While the crinkled wall resembles a crumpled piece of paper, it has to be built from something more substantial. Concrete is the resulting material, and views from the side (the two photos above) make it appear like the surface is thick, as it wraps the corner. But as the photo below attests, the wall is relatively thin, hung a few feet in front of the classroom windows.

Photograph by David Schreyer

Photograph by David Schreyer

The thinness of the concrete panels accentuates the allusion to paper, a material whose form is mirrored from one side to the other when crumpled, though from the inside the materiality of the Crinkled Wall—its texture, its formwork holes—comes to the fore. The same happens on the exterior when it rains, turning something abstract into something dripping with its reality. This is important, because Klopf opted to sculpt something tactile rather than something made of bits and bytes. An LED facade can also express knowledge, learning, and information. By selecting paper, Klopf makes us aware of the analog-digital shift underway (computers may have a "recycling bin" with "wastepaper" in them, but they aren't the same as the real thing), helping us to realize it is not absolute or simple.

Photograph by David Schreyer

Site Plan

Floor Plan

Building Section

Four Chesapeake Energy Buildings

Four Chesapeake Energy Buildings in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, by Elliott + Associates Architects, 2011

Chesapeake Finish Line Tower. All photographs by Scott McDonald/Hedrich Blessing, courtesy of Elliott + Associates Architects

While formed less than 25 years ago, Chesapeake Energy bills itself today as "the second-largest producer of natural gas, 11th largest producer of oil and natural gas liquids and the most active driller of new wells in the U.S." (Texas's ExxonMobil is the one ahead of Chesapeake in the first case.) The company is headquartered in Oklahoma City and is in the midst of adding considerably to their 111-acre (45-hectare) campus north of downtown, just off of I-44. Each building on the new campus has been designed by Elliott + Associates Architecture, also based in Oklahoma City; three of those buildings are discussed here as well as a building on the banks of the Oklahoma River closer to downtown.

Chesapeake Finish Line Tower

The Chesapeake Finish Line Tower is a project of both Chesapeake Energy and the Oklahoma City Boathouse Foundation; basically the former gave money to support the latter's focus on using the river for recreation and competitions to make "a stronger, healthier community." The foundation's goal has involved the construction of eight buildings for storing boats and providing facilities and amenities, with two more in planning. The tower is their third building, and it is the third for the foundation designed by Rand Elliott's firm. The 4-story, 7,100-sf (660-sm) tower provides a welcome center on the first floor, a space for the finish line jury one floor above, a media room on the third floor, and a VIP viewing gallery on the top floor. The glass prow of the tapered building allows for full views of the river, particularly when the glazing at the corner retracts (visible in the top photo).

Chesapeake Finish Line Tower

Chesapeake Building 13

The Chesapeake Finish Line Tower was completed in July 2011, the same month as the next two projects: Chesapeake Building 13 and Chesapeake Car Park One. Both can be seen in the photo above, with Building 13 in the foreground. As can be seen in the aerial at bottom, this 130,000-sf (12,000-sm) office building is triangular in plan, while the larger parking structure that links to it by bridges is a rectangle just south of it. The north-facing glass wall defines the north edge of the campus and presents outsiders with a contrast between the modern expansion and Chesapeake's neo-Georgian campus across the street to the west.

Chesapeake Building 13

Elliott followed the client's existing 52-foot module for offices, resulting in a central atrium that is highlighted by dichroic glass panels hanging in the triangular space. What really conveys the logic of the module intersecting the tapered triangle of the site is the view of the corridors from the "tip" at the building's eastern end (photo below). This point is accentuated through two panes of backlit glass.

Chesapeake Building 13

Chesapeake Car Park One

With a single architect and simultaneous construction of the two buildings, some elements are shared between the office building and the car park. Most notable is an armature with angled screens that blocks afternoon sunlight—more important in the office building but used on both as a formal link. The majority of Car Park One is covered with staggered metal panels that allow natural ventilation but not views of the cars. Without any exterior lighting, strips of light illuminate the building at night, as artificial light from inside leaks through the gaps.

Chesapeake Car Park One

Given that the most common saying after parking a car in a garage is "remember where we parked," wayfinding is particularly important. The large, 4-aisled footprint of this garage on 5 levels (850 spaces total) means this is important, even though most drivers will be using the garage day after day as employees of Chesapeake Energy. Elliott uses color to help people locate what level they parked on; through paint, lighting, and graphics. The central, east-west axis that cuts through the building (below photo) is particularly memorable for the use of Dan Flavin-like fluorescent strips of light and the way the colored bands of light overlap with the angled floors (a section occurrence of the angled plan intersection in Building 13).

Chesapeake Car Park One

Chesapeake Child Development Center 1

In the middle of the campus expansion's many blocks being taken over by office buildings and parking garages is the Chesapeake Child Development Center, a 60,000-sf (5,575-sm) building that serves the children of the company's approximately 12,500 employees. The general footprint can be grasped in the aerial at bottom: classrooms, offices, a kitchen, playroom, and other spaces are located in four rectangular volumes that branch off of a central east-west circulation spine. This layout allows secure courtyards to be created between the volumes.

Chesapeake Child Development Center 1

Like the parking structure—and appropriate to childhood learning—color is used predominantly and strategically. Even as the exterior is made up of primarily gray and white bricks, splashes of color (especially in mechanical enclosures on the roof) hint at the saturated interior. In the case of the main corridor (below), the yellow from the floor and wall colors the ceiling and the brick wall that link inside and outside. Light tubes help to fill the spine with natural light and "spray circles of light on the walls and floor," what Rand Elliott admits is his favorite detail in the building.

Chesapeake Child Development Center 1

Ama’r Children’s Culture House

Ama'r Children's Culture House in Copenhagen, Denmark, by Dorte Mandrup Architects, 2013

The following text and images are courtesy of Dorte Mandrup Architects.

Photograph by Jens Lindhe

The Ama'r Children’s Culture House is an innovative project developed with the fanciful and fun input of children. The Culture House is a Danish Villa Villekulla that offers a unique range of spatial experiences and cultural activities.

Photograph by Torben Eskerod

Dorte Mandrup Arkitekter considered the children’s countless ideas and wishes throughout the design process. They have created a house with many intriguing angles, caves and stairs that pro- vide a wealth of opportunities for creative expression and exploration. Just like the kids wished for! A dream come true! -Nild Regout, Head of Ama’r Children’s Culture House

Photograph by Jens Lindhe

The Children’s Culture House mediates the varying scales of adjacent buildings through extruding and cutting their forms. The joint of the building, where the extended lines of the existing buildings meet, is lowered to allow maximum sunlight to reach the neighboring courtyard. The expression of the Children’s Culture House is surprising and imaginative: the roof and facades are treated the same, and the House does not have a “start” and “end” as ordinary houses do.

Photograph by Torben Eskerod

The building is organized as a mountain. All interior spaces are visually connected, and are bound together by dynamic circulation. The house offers flexible spaces and customized furniture, which have been proven to enhance children’s creativity and active participation. The spaces provide opportunities for varied use and accommodate age groups from 0-18 years with changing needs.

Photograph by Torben Eskerod

The construction details of The Ama’r Children’s Culture House have been designed in collaboration with Nøhr and Sigsgaard Arkitekter.

Photograph by Torben Eskerod

Ground floor plan courtesy of Dorte Mandrup Architects

First floor plan courtesy of Dorte Mandrup Architects

Second floor plan courtesy of Dorte Mandrup Architects

Building section A-A courtesy of Dorte Mandrup Architects

Drawing courtesy of Dorte Mandrup Architects

Lycée Régional René Goscinny

Lycée Régional René Goscinny in Drap, France, by José Morales with Rémy Marciano, 2012.

The following text and images are courtesy of José Morales.

The building is accessed from an upper platform which leads to common facilities rooms and to the main entrance hall itself sheltered by an overhang that supports the Document and Information Centre. It is the only part that juts out of the homogeneous body of the building making the entrance clearly stand out. The existing Goscinny house has been reclaimed and features administrative offices on the ground floor and teachers’offices on the first floor. The dry stone-wall foundations make the house part of the land in its own right and, moreover, enable from a scale perspective the transition from the villages of the valley to the new building.

Since the activity center operates independently from the rest of the building it has been tucked under the main entrance where it can run on its own. The rest of the building is comprised of three levels which feature a shifting overlap pattern to closely follow the land grade, thereby providing a very clear and efficient distribution of spaces for discrete activities. Teaching classrooms spread over two floors in one building and give onto a covered hall that runs around a planted patio. Anchored right into the ground, the cafeteria sits to the east side sheltering the student recess courtyard from eastern winds.

Built out of cyclopean concrete, the lower parts of the building feature openings of different styles - traditional or creative - which alternate in sizes and shapes. The upper floor, dedicated to general secondary education classes, is wrapped in a wood facade which unifies the volumes while describing large gauche-looking surfaces. Sun protection systems have been set up on the facades to allow to modulate the natural light, to provide venting, to blackout or close spaces, all within an optical art style. As a result, the building seems to be moving continuously more or less in sync with the movement of the blinds. New outlines have been drawn and set against the rugged hills of the landscape. Our project has created a dialog between the existing buildings and the surrounding landscape. It has also capitalized on the best exposure and the best views to offer students the best functional set up where they can feel protected, in harmony with the location and in tune with the region where they live.

Designed from the very beginning to be cost effective as regards to energy needs, the project totally qualifies to be HQE certified. It is the first school built partly in wood in the PACA region. The wood part of the structure rests on a wood floor which itself is set on wooden subflooring. The lumber used comes from neighboring forests sustainably managed and the insulating material used is wood fiber. In so choosing, we were able to reduce the energy consumption regarding the construction materials life cycle, something we could not have done with traditional cement structures and rock wool insulation. The wood construction acts as a carbon sink; particularly so when the wood is produced locally as the energy cost for delivering the supplies to the site is much lower. Seventy per cent of the energy needs are provided by the pellet wood furnace, with a capacity of 200 kW, the rest by a gas furnace with a capacity of 350 kW. The gas furnace is sized however to be able to supply all of the energy needs and therefore be used as a full backup if necessary for any reason. Semi-transparent solar panels are installed over the outside corridors covering a total surface of 540 m2. Such installation is completed over the class room building by the laying of amorphous waterproof roofing panels.

Universidade Agostinho Neto

Universidade Agostinho Neto in Luanda, Angola by Perkins + Will, 2011.

Luanda, the capital of Angola and its largest city, is located on the country's Atlantic coast, only 8.4-degrees latitude south of the equator. Both the city and country are undergoing reconstruction after a civil war that stretched from the mid-1970s, when the Portuguese pulled out, until 2002, when a cease-fire was reached. Even before some peace came to the country, plans were under way to create a proper campus for Universidade Agostinho Neto, which dates back to the 1960s and is named for the country's first president. Located on 5,000 acres southeast of Luanda, the new campus will build out to 6-1/2 million square feet (600,000 sm) and serve 40,000 students when complete; a handful of buildings for phase one were completed in 2011.

Perkins+Will's master plan for the new campus strives to create a sustainable urbanism through propinquity and responses to climate. The first is addressed through a pinwheel plan, with the library, plaza and student union occupying the center. Each college occupies a linear bar that radiates from the core, meaning that the buildings are equidistant from the central services and open space (one college is not closer to the center than another). Second, the siting of the pinwheel on the site is turned about 20 degrees from north-south to funnel breezes from the coast to the southwest. Furthermore, a strong identity and definition of the university on the area is formed through an elliptical ring road, half of which can be seen in the aerial view at bottom.

The sustainable aspects of Perkins+Will's planning also extend to the buildings designed by principal Ralph Johnson, who probably has more experience with schools incorporating sustainable principles than any architect practicing today. The campus buildings that comprise phase one—the library and classroom buildings for chemistry, mathematics, physics and computer sciences—are immediately recognizable as Johnson buildings, layering well-detailed shading elements over linear, modern forms. As the first two photos here attest, the library peeks above the surrounding buildings and landscape to be visible from even the far reaches of future phases, and the classroom buildings have consistent zigzagging roofs that create a strong silhouette meeting the expansive sky.

An admirable aspect of the design, particularly the classroom buildings, is an emphasis on passive cooling, developed with consulting engineers Battle McCarthy. Most evident are the louvered roofs that extend well past the glass exterior walls; some stretches extend across the courtyards to help shade these outdoor zones from the high sun (remember, the school is very close to the equator). Further, these canopies heat up from the sun's rays, pulling the hot air up through the courtyards, and working together with the classroom and single-loaded exterior corridors to naturally ventilate the classrooms. These are not new ideas, but their execution serves to create a strong sense of place, modern yet rooted in the particularities of Luanda.

KU Lied Center Addition

KU Lied Center Addition in Lawrence, Kansas by Helix Architecture + Design, 2011.

The Lied Center of Kansas at the University of Kansas (KU) consists of a 2,000-seat multi-purpose theater with rehearsal rooms, dressing rooms, and administrative spaces. Completed in 1993 per a design by Omaha's HDR Architects, the building is a brick hulk sitting in a sea of parking west of the KU campus. Three years later Topeka's HTK Architects added the Bales Organ Recital Hall (which serves the KU School of Music) on the west side of the Lied Center. Rounding out the architectural context in this patch of Lawrence is the nearby Dole Institute of Politics, designed by ASIA Architecture and completed in 2003; it fronts a large reflecting pool next to the large shared parking lot.

On the opposite side of the Lied Center from the Recital Hall, Helix Architecture + Design has added an educational wing and expanded the lobby and offices. Like the original building, the addition is funded primarily by the Lied Foundation Trust, which aims at making performances, lectures, and educational programs accessible to the people of Kansas. The new addition is anchored by a multi-purpose rehearsal/presentation space that also accommodates meetings, receptions, dinners, and pre- and post-performance activities.

From the exterior the addition fits quite seamlessly with the existing, at least in terms of the matching brick color. Helix eschews the decorative stone that is found elsewhere, particularly as banding on the ground floor. Instead the addition is relatively minimal, basically comprised of brick and glass. The latter zig-zags from the education space down to the new entry, giving a glimpse of each from the exterior. The combination of stepped glass walls (in plan) and angled brick walls at the base gives the impression that the addition is carved from a mass of brick. Aside from this impression, they also make clear where the building access is located.

Entering the addition from the outside, the visitor first encounters some very red carpeting leading to a display on the far wall and the theater beyond; to the right is the education space, visible through a glass opening in the wall with glass doors. Walls and ceilings are folded to give the impression that it's been carved from a white solid; in this sense exterior and interior merge, even though the materials are distinct. But the ceiling's folds are not arbitrary. They conceal vents, cove lights, and equipment suspended from the ceiling. Randomly located downlights give a celestial appearance to the folded overhead plane.

Helix was faced with a bit of challenge, like putting lipstick on a pig, as they say. They made the most of it and subtly sculpted the addition, inside and out, to create an impressive space for appreciating art in eastern Kansas.

Photographs are courtesy of Aaron Dougherty.

Niemenranta Elementary School

Niemenranta Elementary School in Oulunsalo, Finland, by alt Architects + Architecture Office Karsikas, 2012.

The following text and images are courtesy alt Architects. Photographs are by Ville-Pekka Ikola and Kalle Vahtera.

Niemenranta Elementary School is located in a new residential area in Oulunsalo Municipality, surrounded by detached houses and other small-scale houses. Most of the area is still in construction phase. The school center is the only public building in the area, thus creating the obvious center point for it. The school center has three parts: the elementary school for 300 students (the project at hand), the kindergarten, and the junior high school. The first two are complete, but the the junior high school has delayed. Although the school is mainly used for education, it also functions as a common space (sports, hobbies, clubs, and gatherings) for the community.

The building form is a synthesis of the functional and urban goals. The free formed brick wall faces the public areas, while rectangular wooden facades define the school yards. The main element of the exterior—the curvy brick wall—is a synthesis of different ideas as well. On one hand it creates a strong, public and somewhat urban feel to the building; on the other hand it is a reference to nature. Immediate surroundings of the building are non-urban, which turns step by step into forest, shoreline and finally the Gulf of Bothnia. Rectangular, small-scaled and intimate school yards are directed to the south for sunlight, and the building shields itself from the cold northern breezes, thus creating a good micro-climate. Long and expressively shaped eaves provide protection from the harsh climate for both wooden facades and the children.

The materials and forms of the building obviously reference Alvar Aalto's brick architecture, but also the late-70s and early-80s Finnish, postmodern regionalism movement, the "Oulu School", which had a strong impact in the Northern Finland's (and especially Oulunsalo-area's) public buildings. The main goal of Oulu School was to abandon the universal and cold modernism and replace it with regionalist, humane architecture that would be in harmony with the landscape, climate and cultural adaptations of the area. Wood and brick were the prominent materials used by Oulu School.  Even though Niemenranta School Center is far from the sometimes over-the-board romanticism and historicism of Oulu School architecture, the mental side of the design evolves from the same root of ideas.

The spatial highlight of the school is the main entrance hall and the public spaces linked to it. The free-formed wooden ceiling emphasizes and gives a strong character to these public spaces. Other parts of the building are small-scaled and intimate. Bright colors are implemented in the classrooms and corridors in order to bring playfulness and easy orientation to the building. The design strives to be bold and modest at the same time: considering the budget and the responsible use of public money, yet creating a distinguished public building for the community to feel proud of.

Integrated School Complex

Integrated Elementary-Middle School Complex in Rome, Italy by Herman Hertzberger and Marco Scarpinato, 2012.

Writing about this recently completed school in the Romanina section of Rome is not an easy feat, given that Herman Hertzberger's buildings beg to be visited to be understood (more than many other buildings) and are designed to be "completed" by the users (as described in an article at Domus by Massimo Faiferri). Therefore the task runs the risk of being an architectonic exercise, mentioning those traits but focusing on plans, sections, and materials, and speculating on the success of the project once the teachers and students figure out how to use the various spaces, indoor and out.

For the duration of the project Hertzberger worked with Marco Scarpinato (AutonomeForme) as Hertzberger + Scarpinato. The duo developed a plan with a repeated courtyard structure that is reminiscent of Hertzbberger's "cellular" designs, in which rooms of various porosity are oriented to shared spaces. Classrooms, a gymnasium, auditorium, and cafeteria serving 500 students are spread across the large site in a complex circulation network that seems to blur the differences between inside and outside.

The spatial component of education that Hertzberger proposes in the Romanina school reveals an ethical stance that — even in the light of widespread social behavior across Italy — rarely finds suitable models that respond adequately to the problems of education in our times. -Massimo Faiferri, at Domus

As the photos here attest, the architecture of the school and its potential is in the steps. Open steps that serve as amphitheaters are a common device in Hertzberger's schools, be it a primary or a secondary school; see the De Salamander extended school (2007), Dalton College Leerpark (2008), and De Spil extended school (2008) on his website for examples. Yet here the steps are in abundance, creating places for assembly but also serving to remove the students from the neighborhood by bringing them below grade. Moving down the steps they enter the world of the school.

Further, interior spaces don't appear to be separated by walls but by more steps, all apparently rendered in wood, a contrast to the concrete and brick that otherwise prevails. It is possible that some of these spaces may receive partitions for acoustics or other reasons, but of course that would be in keeping with the framework that Herzberger and Scarpinato have setup.

Coincidentally, this week I'm reviewing a book that looks at a project decades after its completion, the antithesis of the photos documenting this school. Yet the Hertzberger + Scarpinato creation would be a perfect subject for a similar book. In a decade, or even less, the spaces and places of the school should fill themselves out in terms of how they're used and how successful they are. Seeing the building in the future will be so much more valuable than seeing it today.

Sølvgade School

Sølvgade School in Copenhagen, Denmark by C. F. Møller Architects, 2012.

Like a lot of architecture built in European cities, the six-story addition to Copenhagen's Sølvgade School -- the oldest school in Denmark -- must contend with history while dealing with contemporary concerns. C. F. Møller Architects had to address the mid-19th-century architecture of the school but also the nearby Nyboder, the colorful naval barracks of King Christian IV. The architects describe their extension as one "true to the surroundings" but with "a modernistic twist."

The photo at top illustrates how the architects balanced the historical and the contemporary through the scale, massing, and facades of the 2,400-sm (25,800-sf) building (the architects are also responsible for the renovation of the existing school, which the addition more than doubles). While the addition does not physically touch the original school, which occupies the middle of the block, the new corner building responds to the street wall and continues the cornice and roof line of its neighbor on the west. Yet, turning the corner, the solid facade gives way to an all-glass elevation that also expresses the contextual but somewhat odd slope of the top floor.

The windows punched into the whitewashed walls -- a treatment that covers three of the facades, including the side facing the old building (photo at left) -- certainly stand out from the historical context, but it is the colorful east elevation that provides the modernstic twist and gives the school a strong contemporary image. The colors work in a couple ways: They cover the deep recesses in the facade perpendicular to the glass and extend to the inner walls of the double-skin facade. This results in a rainbow-like jigsaw of different-sized rectangles across the elevation, which shifts from glassy during the day to punched-windows in the evening, the latter stemming from the double-facade's inner layer.

Color is not limited to the facades. It is also found in the various circulation spaces, which vary their surfaces like the facade's larger shadowboxes. More than giving the Sølvgade School a contemporary means of branding, the colors create a lively environment for the students. Studies have show how color plays an important role in influencing mood, attention, and other psychological factors. Today, with so many distractions available for tech-minded students, it's important for educational environments to elevate the spirit of students and work toward focusing their attention on the learning at hand.

Family Crèche

Family Crèche in Drulingen, France by Fluor Architects, 2010.

Drulingen is a small town in the Alsace region of northeastern France. One of the main routes into town from the nearby motorway is Rue de Phalsbourg, on which this "Family Crèche" (child care center, day care center, kitchen) designed by Strasbourg's Fluor Architects sits. Its site determines much of the building's design, not only since it is at an entrance to the town, but also because it sits adjacent to an old police station. The design melds these three realms: road, edge (of town), and existing building.

The most evident means of relating to the site is found in the wood lattice that covers the long elevation facing the road. Fluor Architects -- the duo of Hervé Schneider and Guillaume Avenard -- treat the lattice with a regular, rectangular grid of timber sticks at 45-degrees to horizontal. Variation is found in the infill -- smaller members at different angles and spacings -- as well as the occasional openings and the way the roofline seems to blindly cut the lattice. The character of the openings is most pronounced at the entrance, where the cut curves up on the sides to the double-door header.

The facility is seen as a cocoon sheltering the most fragile, ... where the child starts his life in society. -Fluor Architects

The relationship to both the edge condition and the existing building on the site is found in the massing of the building, a two-story structure that steps down from the police station to the tip of the triangular plot. Combined with the lattice elevation, this gives the impression that the building erodes or disintegrates towards the south and east. Yet as the photo at left attests, this stepping also creates a series of terraces and brings daylight into second-floor spaces deep within the triangular plan. The stepping responds as much to the sunlight as the shape of the site and other factors.

While the wood lattice veils any indication of what is happening inside -- strengthening the architect's assertion that the building protects its occupants -- the rooftop photo at right gives a better indication of the character of the interiors. Splashes of color are found in both the skylights and the variously sized window openings. A look inside reveals portals lined with colors, enlivening otherwise white spaces for the children. Corridors add even more color, to the point of supersaturation. The result is a building that creatively responds to its site while creating a light-filled interior playfully in tune with the children using them.