COOKFOX Architects has recently begun construction on The Neeson Cripps Academy, a high-tech and sustainable school to be built in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, as a gift from Velcro Companies to the Cambodian Children’s Fund.
The school, named for Cambodian Children’s Fund founder Scott Neeson and former Velcro Companies Chairman Robert Cripps, will employ multiple sustainable building practices, including water and energy efficiency via natural lighting, integrated solar shading, low energy lighting, and low flow water fixtures. An energy recovery system will further work to improve air quality inside classrooms by filtering outdoor air into the interior of the building, and on-site photovoltaic cells will provide a portion of the school’s energy needs.
In concurrence with sustainability goals, COOKFOX is incorporating biophilic design principles, such as using natural and natural-analogue materials, specifically tile designs made from locally sourced terracotta that will resemble the woven fiber patterns of traditional Khmer textiles. These patterns, according to the architects, will imprint “the school of the future with a connection to the rich cultural history of Cambodia.”
The building itself is set to be five stories tall, and comprising two parts. One wing, oriented east-west, will feature open-air learning spaces capped with a bamboo shading screen on the southern façade. Meanwhile, the north-south wing of the building will house science and technology spaces, and therefore will include efficient mechanical air conditioning systems, as well as horizontal and vertical terracotta fins for additional shading.
A large portion of the school is meant to have flexible space for long-term community use. Because of this, the ground floor will be executed with an open concept, providing a versatile gathering space, but also pragmatically mitigating the effects of any potential flooding in the future.
The rooftop will contain both a multipurpose athletic court, as well as a teaching garden filled with local plants and vegetables, which will additionally help to reduce storm water runoff and minimize solar heat gain.
The design is informed by COOKFOX's previous work in Cambodia, including their pavilion at Angkor Hospital for Children, the rehabilitation of the Sihanouk Hospital Center for Hope, and their foundation Naga Biofeuls, which helps provide clean fuels for NGOs’ backup generators.
“The Neeson Cripps Academy engages in a global discussion about the future of education, and how to design spaces now that imagine the future. Combining flexibility for the evolving needs of student based learning, and a focus on STEAM education, our design for NCA is also rooted in our passion for environmentally responsive design inspired by its site and cultural context," said architect Pam Campbell.
The Neeson Cripps Academy is set to open in early 2017. Learn more about the project here.
Project ManagerPam Campbell
PhotographsCourtesy of COOKFOX Architects
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