This colorful building in singapore forms a vibrant extension to an existing primary school. Designed by australian architecture firm studio505 in collaboration with local practice LT&T architects, the scheme is articulated around a large internalized valley — open to the elements, but oriented away from the surrounding residential streets. the rainbow-like façades are created through the application of emulsion paint on profiled precast concrete spandrels, used in tandem with colored aluminum shading shelves.
Part of the previously existing campus had been reserved for demolition as it no longer provided a modern teaching environment. The previous buildings, particularly the large kindergarten, had not been designed in accordance with the site’s natural sloping topography. Instead they were located parallel to the street and perpendicular to the direction of the slope, creating a barrier.
Behind this building, the steep slopes were exposed or bridged over, creating unusable and unsightly pockets of space that were difficult to integrate into the plan. ‘These unusable spaces between the former large scale buildings, out of proportion and character with a child’s world, created the starting point of our thinking for the new design,’ explain the architects. ‘Very quickly it became clear that the new concept will have to be centered on a generous, open and usable communal space that draws advantages from the site’s inherent topography.’
Studio505 proposed aligning the new volumes parallel to the direction of the hilltop slope and perpendicular to passing street, creating a large inviting central valley. This void serves as both the entry to the site and its main orientation device, drawing the visitor up the slope, through the heart of the school, and into a large open courtyard. At its center, a landscaped staircase provides access to classrooms, while doubling as a small amphitheater for outdoor group activities. The valley’s landscape gesture is modeled on the underlying contours of the site, yet is countered by the verticality of the stair and the bold yellow columns supporting the overhead bridges that connect the scheme’s parallel wings.
The new kindergarten and indoor sports facilities are integrated into the gorge — flanking it on either side. meanwhile, a covered outdoor play area is created via a large, two-storey indent into the valley’s side wall. external circulation routes are orientated towards the communal void, while large suspended shelves provide shading and protection against wind and rain.
All classrooms face away from the central valley to the quieter residential areas. in contrast to the colorful exterior, the interior is typically calm in appearance with white walls and ceilings. ‘the classroom door is the only internal colored element, leading children out into the rich and dream-like external world of seemingly endless colored horizontal stripes and pathways of life,’ concludes Studio505.
Photo © studio505.