Miami University graduate students, Brian Albrecht and Kristopher Kunkel, and their faculty adivsor, Mary Rogero, recently sent us their submission for the AIAS School of Tomorrow 2010 Competition. They chose to design for the Phillis Wheatley Elementary School that we recently featured on our site. Their proposed design seeks to accomplish two vital aspects of sustainability and design: the preservation of an iconic Modern structure that embodies the period in which it was built, and secondly adapts that structure to suit present day needs for an area with unique problems and a unique culture.
To celebrate the history of the area as well as the existing structure, bright color, exposure of structural elements, and permitted passive techniques are utilized. To facilitate mechanical needs without relying on intrusive renovation, a raised floor system is used. This allows optimum cooling and heating efficiencies while minimizing space requirements for such systems. In selecting color palette, the psychological benefits of the colors are of utmost importance. The color green is chosen for its soothing effects, its aid in user focus, and the playful expression allowed in creating transparency, branding, and overall thematic display. The extended learning space acts as a break out room for each grade, providing a common space that may be used in conjunction with other classes or in regulated time periods. By passing through the extended learning space to arrive at each classroom, a buffer is created that provides each grade with the opportunity to create their own suitable environment. Added benefit is also found in absorbing necessary circulation space into usable area, while allowing main facility circulation to remain open air. The creative module featured throughout the design allows for a thematic tie across the building’s uses and zones. While the administration wing, learning spaces, and recreational area serve considerably different functions, the formal similarities in the furniture allow for identity to be carried throughout the holistic design.
In designing the school, the ultimate question lies within how one designs the space to match the imagination present in the mind of a child. The module allows a creative interpretation of traditional school components; where typical desks and equipment most often effectively serve their purpose, the solution lacks inspiration and design integration. Our solution is a playful interpretation towards everyday function. In creating the module, sustainable materials are chosen to facilitate each need. Where lightweight furniture is desired, reclaimed plastics are particularly handy. Existing, reprocessed hardscape may fill modular voids to create a heavier concrete use in playground/parking barriers, while recycled foams may allow a softer genre for library and lounge furniture.