International School in Hong Kong

Safety,  cohesion and a sense of community for education in a commercial building

Hong Kong’s land shortage is forcing industries and institutions to think smartly about how they tap into the market. This is no different for the education sector. Looking to promote an education facility in a commercial retail property, PMDL Architecture & Design was engaged to carry out a feasibility study and concept design for a potential high profile international school. Key considerations of the design is to create a school environment that fosters a strong sense of community and identity, and ensure a safe and cohesive education environment within the commercial building.

Located in the epicentre of Hong Kong’s new emerging cultural hub, the site is easily accessed and is located adjacent to a number of MTR stations which service a variety of train lines, in close proximity to main road links and is well serviced by public bus.

LOCATION Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong

YEAR 2021

The entrances are designed as light filled double height spaces which welcomes students and parents with subtle nods to the schools values and pedagogy.

The School has two main entrances – one at podium level for kiss and drop, and another off the main road. Embracing a hospitality feel the entrances are the first impression of the school and provide a light, airy and nature filled vestibule before entering the school outright. Sanitation points are provided which address the heightened appreciation for hygiene. The students, by walking in under a signature engraved stone wall, are reminded of the virtues the school have.

The School’s circulation is organised around the Central Hub, which is used as a tool to disperse the students. Located in the heart of the school the hub is a circulation interchange, a drop off area and school gathering space.

From the two primary entrances the students travel vertically into the Hub and from there they disperse to their respective year groups by the main school avenues which extend horizontally throughout the school.  The Hub provides a buffer zone between primary and secondary schools ensuring that younger students do not need to travel through a secondary school to get to their classrooms.

Primarily considered as a circulatory tool, stairs when widened and embraced, can become much more. The design incorporates vertical connections between the deep floor plates. These connections provide numerous opportunities to the school. The stairs and tiered seating embrace a variety of functions and programmes. They are large enough so that they can accommodate formal events for one year group. During lunch and recess they are informal gathering spaces where students can socialise and relax. They can also become more formal teaching spaces for one year group.

Classrooms are designed to foster a sense of community throughout the school. It is the creation of schools within schools.

Conscious of the need for modern education facilities to be adaptable and foster a community identity, the design embraces the idea of schools within schools.
The principle considers all scales of the school from the individual to the collective. Consequently there are spaces for the individual student, the class group, the year group, and so on up to the overall school group. This design philosophy creates spaces and settings that nurture interactions between adults and students, between students of different ages, and between and across faculties and key learning areas.

A modern, bright, open plan library with visual connections to Hong Kong’s primary cultural attractions, a winter garden and an abundance of daylight. With a desire to expose students to its cultural surroundings the library is strategically placed to overlook the burgeoning West Kowloon Cultural District. Promising to be a premier global cultural hub the proximity to the park is celebrated by embracing its views by opening up the facade. The design creates a desirable winter garden and floods the modern open plan library with much needed daylight.

The facade interventions aims to promote and announce the School on a prominent corner. There are numerous promotional opportunities for the school on the facade. As one travels down the side road, the school is announced with high pole banners. For those travelling from the west the School’s prestigious logo presents itself to traffic.

The facade is opened up on Level 2 which floods the school with daylight. This intervention allows the design to differentiate the school from its surroundings. Refined black cladding frames the new openings and reveal the school behind. On Level 3 the design takes advantage of an existing balcony to use as a planting terrace from which the secondary school’s library opens out onto.