Oakwood Accademy School, Highlands

Oakwood Accademy School, Highlands





Description: In 2017 APS were commissioned to design a new Secondary School in the suburbs of Highlands in Harare. The ethos of the proposed school was to be closely based on the Zimbabwean ATS (Association of Trust Schools) model, minus the costly extramural clubs / sports and associated infrastructure and staff, thus providing an affordable alternative to current mainstream education. In addition to our basic brief for this site, we were advised that this was to be the first of many similar school developments throughout the country.

Challenge: In consultation with the Schools management and educational committee, our challenge was to come up with a building typology and construction methodology that was not only cost effective and fit for purpose for this site, but a ‘Meccano’ type class room module that could be adapted to different sites and configurations across the country.

Solution: We immediately recognised the uniqueness of our clients ambition, and suggested a building design that was functional, low cost and contemporary, that would reflected the clients aspirations of a no-frills academic offering. In a nut shell we proposed that the architectural language of the proposals could resonate with the academic ideals and amplify the educational brand. To this end we focused primarily on the class room environment and proposed a mono-pitched roof design, supported by low cost modulated ‘Stumble Bloc’ masonry, in conjunction with generous clerestory windows. The modules are oriented in a north south axis, to minimise solar gain to the west, restrict direct sunlight to the north, and open up to ambient light to the south. Class rooms were paired together in freestanding module format, and grouped to either side of a pedestrian access route. Initial proposals suggested an off grid solution to buildings, where rain water was collected in tanks, and electricity was generated from photovoltaic panels on the roof. Supplementary buildings included an administration block, an examination hall, and a cafeteria, which would cater to the needs of both staff and students, and form a collective gathering space and notional heart to the school. In addition the landscape design incorporated both hard and soft landscaping including a study park, and pedestrianised routes incorporated robust urban furniture - The idea being to extend the functional use of the site, and mimic a campus type environment where personal interactions are encouraged and the learning environment is extended beyond the classroom walls.


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