As an architect who has worked on educational buildings, I cringed at these completely closed boxes, but the openness of the education taught in them won and we enrolled our son in an IB school.-SJK Architects.
We were keen on an IB education for our child for the freedom in learning it oﬀers. We loved it’s focus on a thorough understanding of a subject and analytical skills and not on rote memory, and the broad holistic range of subjects that it oﬀers – one of the most open curriculums available today.
But as we scouted for schools and visited a handful, the irony of the centrally air-conditioned, closed, boxy buildings that IB schools have come to be synonymous with, was not lost on us. IB education is quite expensive and so with it comes an expectation for IB schools to have better infrastructure, one common interpretation for which is equating comfort to air-conditioning.
As an architect who has worked on educational buildings, I cringed at these completely closed boxes, but the openness of the education taught in them won and we enrolled our son in an IB school.
00_Introduction sketch 1
August 2020 has come and gone. This month had been eagerly anticipated by my family – it was the start of the new academic year and the ﬁrst time that my son would start going to a ‘Big’ school! But we are still in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic in semi lockdown state. With all kind of human contact being discouraged for the fear of contracting and spreading the infection, all schools are physically shut, and so the academic year started on- line. It feels a bit strange that the start of a child’s schooling is in a virtual environment.
Most teachers and schools have been exemplary in learning the ropes of on-line, remote teaching quickly, establishing systems and working very hard to come up with content that keeps kids engaged on-line. But while parents are happy to have schooling resume, most fret about the prolonged exposure to screens and the sense of isolation that the kids may feel.
The understanding that social skills and friendships are essential for mental well-being and key to learning, was never so acutely felt as it is now. And when normalcy does return, will the kids have adjusting issues, they wonder.
For now, these are just thoughts and worries – safety is paramount and social distancing our armour until Covid- 19 is vanquished.
But normalcy will return. And when it does, the favourite question doing rounds is – what will we take back from this strange period in our lives?
With thoughts of physical safety and mental health being top of mind, I and other colleagues turned to thinking about the type of buildings that would serve as thriving post-Covid19 schools in the metros.
Two great needs stand out-
1- To design buildings that do not encourage infections from spreading:
Research suggests that being outdoors or in well ventilated spaces can dilute ‘aerosols’ (or germs as we knew them in the pre-covid times!) enough to minimize tremendously the spread of any infection.
A building that is designed to work with climate, one that invites sunlight and wind through strategically located openings but rejects heat and rain, may be quite comfortable for at least a certain percentage of the year in a tropical country like ours (studies claim upto 80% of the time in all climatic zones in our country). So ensuring open spaces and natural cross-ventilation to the extent possible maybe the way to go!
And when absolutely not possible to achieve a comfortable environment without air-conditioning, alternative technologies like radiant cooling that do not circulate air for cooling or use of specialized ﬁlters that clean air in circulation could be employed to prevent air-borne infections from spreading.
2- To design buildings for human connections:
Post this isolation that children have been through, the attention would undoubtedly be towards providing environments that deepen human connections and restore or enrichen the social fabric of their little worlds.
Studies indicate that not only do friendships and social relationships strengthen children emotionally and turn them into well-rounded human beings, but also peer-to-peer sharing will most deﬁnitely accelerate learning. Such interactions with peers, often occurs outside the formal space of a classroom – so designing spaces for social interactions is a critical need.
It seems clear that the two responses that emerge– designing buildings with really good ventilation and ensuring spaces for social interactions, are simple yet wonderful principles of design for physical-emotional health and happiness that have been prevalent through all of historic and vernacular architecture, and ones that we at SJK Architects have applied to a variety of projects.
Here’s examining some of our urban projects, ranging from oﬃce buildings to residential homes, and spotlighting methodologies that helped accomplish these principles of health and happiness, ones that can easily be applied to post covid school buildings.
One: Use screens to draw wind into the building without gaining heat:
While the non-north faces of the building receive direct sunlight and are way warmer than the north, it may be necessary to open these up to invite the winds in for proper cross-ventilation. Drawing from the use of ‘jalis’ in vernacular and historic buildings, sun-shading devices such as louvers, ﬁns or screens can be added to such non-north openings, ensuring that direct sun (and, therefore, heat) is blocked and not incident into the inner spaces, while the gaps in the ‘jalis’ can still allow wind in.
1_Nagpur House – Jali
Allowing the screens to be movable can give additional ﬂexibility to open up completely in the winters or in cloudy weather, while leaving them shut when the sun is scorching bright.
4_Nagpur House – External Elevation
[Images 1, 2 and 3- Wooden jalis protect the bedrooms and living spaces of a Family Home at Nagpur, allowing for natural ventilation when possible, keeping the interiors cool, well shaded and additionally ensuring privacy.]
Two: Open up the North for drawing wind into the building and for social spaces:
The north face of the building receives the best shade (in our hemisphere) and is, therefore, the coolest! So, it makes sense to open up the north of the building. One can easily provide windows to draw wind into the building from the north. But, additionally, one can also step out into comfortable, well-shaded courtyards, balconies and other social spaces that can be carved out of the north face of the building. Providing these courtyards with props like amphitheater steps and benches can support interactions.
While designing in cities, one is ever conscious of ensuring that all available FSI is consumed leading to tall buildings with little or no open space available at ground level. So while a courtyard at ground level is often impossible, providing courtyards at higher levels is a useful strategy that can ensure a win-win.
[Image 4, 5 and 6- A north facing, shaded and vibrant courtyard at the 4th ﬂoor of a Commercial Building at Nagpur with an amphi-theatre and overlooking public passages, staircases, projecting meeting rooms and terraces to create a design centered around social gathering spaces and green pockets at every level.]
Three : Tiny courtyards for better social interactions and some fresh air:
Often, in the quest to consume all available FSI, it may be impossible to provide large courtyards. But even an eight feet wide tiny courtyard can become the soul of a building by bringing in day light and visually connecting diﬀerent ﬂoors.
[Image 7- A tiny 8’ x 21’ atrium courtyard within a Family Home at Nagpur. The courtyard visually connects diﬀerent levels of the house and is designed to create a sense of togetherness that binds a large joint family]
Four: The Staircase as a courtyard for cross ventilation and visual connectivity:
Some projects are so hemmed in from all sides that even the tiniest courtyard is impossible. But converting the staircase into a courtyard is still a possibility as we found while designing one of our favourite projects in Bangalore.
The staircase is a vertical connector that is a mandatory part of any building and organizing it, such that it visually connects diﬀerent levels and becomes a conduit for sun and wind, can convert it into an urban courtyard that much like a traditional courtyard can serve as a space for social connections and welcome breaks, with minimal waste of precious ﬂoor space.
(Images 8 and 9- The core of this ‘out of the box’ oﬃce building for Nirvana Films at Bangalore is the N-S connector staircase that slices through the building with a huge skylight above, suﬀusing it with sunlight and natural ventilation.
Five: Use the terraces for social interactions:
The roof terrace is a free of fsi space. If possible, carving into the building to provide small terraces at every level can allow for each classroom to have a small attached open space. But whether at one level or at many, greening up the terrace for the children to use is such a simple possibility! It can bring an additional beneﬁt – the joy of learning from nature!
Six: Balconies for well ventilated social interactions:
Some cities have, very wisely, retained the possibility of cantilevered balconies and double height terraces over and above the permissible fsi allowed for the building. If one is lucky to be in such a city, needless to say, all balconies must be availed for breezy, social spaces.
The lockdown in the wake of Covid 19 has forced us to pause and reﬂect, and simple solutions like the ones described here and perhaps several more are available to design post-covid city schools. These simple solutions that promote better physical-emotional health and happiness align beautifully with the spirit of sustainable development. Buildings and cities that work with climate will consume less energy and lower our carbon footprint. Likewise, buildings and cities that promote social interactions will help provide an emotionally stronger social fabric through better communication and understanding, one that, hopefully, will lead to a more inclusive, fair and tolerant society. So, in promoting our own health and happiness, we can simultaneously nurture the planet and its people – the wonderful i n t e r c o n n e c t e d n e s s of all fates! Sometimes it takes a pandemic to remind us.
This article of Specifier Review on ‘The Science of Sustainability’ was practically developed by a team of South East England based structural and civil engineers. Apart from enlightening us on the Science of Sustainability, Perega elaborated here on how the built environment is to be developed and maintained as per the latest sustainability norms as established by international institutions.
Perega and Perega Clear Structures deliver engineering services for CABI’s new eco-friendly offices.
Perega, one of the UK’s most-respected structural and civil engineering practices, and its leading glass engineering arm, Perega Clear Structures, have recently completed work on one of the UK’s most anticipated building projects: The Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International’s (CABI) new headquarters in Wallingford, Oxfordshire.
With construction completed last month, it’s been an exciting and rewarding contract for both firms, putting their team’s extensive skills to the test to address some unique challenges.
Involved from the very outset, Perega and Perega Clear Structures worked with forward-thinking architectural practice Scott Brownrigg, and contractor Barnwood Construction, to provide full civil, structural, and glass engineering consultancy.
Supporting Sustainable Structures
Specifically, Perega’s engineers provided structural consultancy for the composition of the new building’s first floor.
Consisting of a hybrid precast/in situ podium, the on-site team suggested the most effective solution would be the exploitation of a precast twin wall system for the concrete walls. By encouraging the use of precast concrete, Perega was able to obtain a high-quality finish on exposed surfaces and deliver the required thermal mass.
Further, expert advice was given for an extensive green roof, helping to design a robust steel roof structure to support the weight of the soil and turf intended for it. This, in turn, was positioned on steel columns directly bearing onto the podium columns below.
Attenuate the Positive
The Civils team was also kept busy, sharing its considerable knowledge and skill for the design of the site’s drainage and hard paving.
The drive for sustainability and achieving a minimal environmental footprint was central to the CABI development. To help deliver these requirements, the drainage strategy used a sedum green roof, which stores rainfall in the substrate and the drainage layer and allows it to be absorbed by plants. This delays the discharge of rainwater to the sewerage system, purifies it, and also allows for evapotranspiration to occur.
The below-ground drainage also used sustainable systems (SuDS) from the higher tiers of the drainage hierarchy. Soakaways were used to infiltrate surface water to groundwater. This ensured surface water was attenuated and discharged on-site, placing no burden on the public sewerage system. This proved a challenge as infiltration rates were variable, and there were elevated groundwater levels. This required careful ground investigation and soakaway placement to ensure they were in areas that would allow uninhibited surface water infiltration.
The overall drainage strategy was designed to accommodate, and discharge, a 1 in 100-year rainfall event, including an additional allowance of 40% for climate change. This ensured the drainage system was designed in accordance with the latest climate change guidance and had future peak rainfall estimates incorporated into its design.
Clearing the Path to Success
Perega Clear Structures proved pivotal in the delivery of CABI’s glasswork, issuing advice for glass balustrading across the building’s internal landings and bridges, as well as the full height frameless office partition screens.
One challenge faced was the choice of glazing system originally specified for the frameless glass partition screens for the project.
Here, the performance data as provided by the system manufacturer, gained from testing of the proprietary partition system, did not correlate with Perega Clear Structures’ design calculations for the required partition configurations.
However, following considerable and extensive investigation, a hybrid design was developed, allowing the original specification to be delivered with minimal adaptation or disruption.
Building Better, Building Greener
Commenting on the construction journey, Perega’s senior engineer, Corina Robea, says, “It’s great to be involved in a project for such a prestigious organisation doing such important work. Building to a sustainable brief always makes for interesting work and there were many specific, material choices that needed to be made to deliver structural integrity but also ensure carbon neutrality. Furthermore, we needed to be sensitive around the visual impact of the finished structure which led us to make some swaps, for example, switching from poured to precast concrete to deliver a more pleasing effect.
She continues, “I’m particularly proud of the design of a set of impressive, central scissor staircases. We played an integral role in ensuring the feasibility and stability of this striking feature and I’m so pleased with the results, they really add to the overall aesthetic whilst serving a useful function.”
Rob Parsell, Associate at Perega Clear Structures, concludes, “One of the most satisfying parts of the job is being able to provide a constructive answer to what initially looks like an insurmountable problem. Working in a collaborative fashion, with the glazing system manufacturer, and maintaining an open dialogue allowed us to pool our collective expertise. Ultimately, we were able to develop a workable solution without compromising on the original vision and design of the finished building, a win-win situation all-round.”
CABI’s new offices are sustainable to the core, reflecting the organisation’s ongoing work to encourage biodiversity and eco-friendly philosophy. Designed to be as energy-efficient as possible, materials, components, and systems were specifically chosen on their high-performance, low-impact credentials. The facility is now open for business and staff will be populating the space over the coming months.
Perega is an employee-owned UK structural and civil engineering practice. Headquartered in Guildford, Perega’s works dynamically with its clients across a wide range of sectors, notably healthcare, education and retail.
The company prioritises a forward-thinking approach to engineering, adding value through effective communication to deliver high quality, innovative and cost-effective engineering solutions.
The Perega team’s experience spans from private houses and retirement villages to large retail parks, major hospital redevelopments and town centre regenerations.
Chances are that over the last few months you’ve found yourself trying to adapt to a new working environment as the nation gets to grips with home working and/or schooling. As few people are fortunate enough to have a dedicated home office space, many will no doubt have found themselves sprawled out on the sofa, taking over a kitchen worktop or even working from their beds (we’ve all done it!).
Wherever you have managed to find space, you have most likely been drawn to the brightest spot in the house. It’s no great surprise that people are attracted to natural light and that most of us feel better when the sun comes out. However, beyond the “feel good” factor there are many tangible benefits to increasing the amount of natural daylight entering a building, none more so than improved productivity levels.
Daylight is a vital natural resource that will significantly improve the environment within any building. Evidence from the numerous physical and psychological studies undertaken on the subject, suggests that buildings enjoying high levels of natural light are literally more successful than those more reliant on artificial light. In all environments our brains respond better to natural light, which means people perform better.
If your home has all of a sudden also become your workplace, the presence of natural daylight has never been so important. Daylight is proven to increase concentration levels in working environments, with numerous studies showing that well-lit spaces often achieve improved productivity, over those that are not.
Many scientific studies conducted in the healthcare sector also support the conclusion that natural daylight has proven health benefits. Daylight helps to shorten patient recovery times, improves their mood and generally promotes well-being. So it’s no surprise that architects involved with hospitals, housing for the elderly and other healthcare buildings are constantly adjusting and updating their designs to reflect the importance of introducing daylight and, more specifically, natural sunlight.
But it’s not just the elderly or unwell that can reap the health benefits of natural light. It is estimated that up to 20 per cent of the UK population suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a form of winter depression. These individuals are known to respond to the hormone serotonin, whose production is triggered by natural daylight.
The environmental and financial benefits
Natural light also offers an environmentally friendly means of saving money on energy costs. It stands to reason that the more natural light entering a building, the less energy for lights and heating is required. If home working is to become the new norm for you or those in your household, then the longer-term cost savings of natural daylight are not to be dismissed, especially as the increase in lighting and power consumption is likely to be required at peak-demand prices. Effective use of day lighting may save up to about 50 percent of your energy cost requirements, depending upon how natural light is used.
Even in our rather dull climate, passive solar gain provides significant potential to reduce energy usage. Buildings that enjoy high levels of natural light evenly spread throughout will be heated naturally for a considerable percentage of the year.
Natural daylight is not only beneficial to those working from home. If you are among the millions of households that have been home schooling your children over the lockdown period you may be interested to know that natural daylight also has a significant impact on education.
Much of the research on the benefits of natural daylight has focused on the learning environment. Enhanced student performance and motivation, increased teacher and student attendance, reduced energy costs, as well as a positive effect on the environment are some of the improvements seen in school buildings that use well-planned day lighting concepts.
One study by Sacramento California, ‘Light Helps Pupils Learn’, is one of the largest ever undertaken on natural light in schools. It suggests that children learn faster and perform better in exams in classrooms with more daylight. It identified that exam results were up to 26 percent higher for schoolchildren in classrooms with plentiful natural light than for those in classrooms with little or no daylight. These findings are reinforced by Alberta Education’s, ‘A Study into the Effects of Light on Children of ElementarySchoolAge’, which showed that natural light also has a positive effect on the health of children, as well as on rates of attendance and achievement.
These are all benefits that can be transferred from school buildings to the home learning environment.
The role of the rooflight
Rooflights let in light from the brightest part of the sky and are not generally affected by external obstructions, such as trees or other buildings. They also provide a more even pattern of light than vertical windows.
Rooflights can form part of an effective technical lighting scheme, particularly in conjunction with efficiently controlled artificial lighting, to produce specified illumination levels for particular tasks. According to leading consultants, horizontal rooflights provide three times more light than vertical windows (the equivalent of 10,000 candles on a sunny day), which is more than 200 times the light needed for most educational or work related tasks.
In addition, rooflights can also add to the more subjective qualities of spaces as an integral part of the building’s architecture. They can provide views of the sky and promote a sense of well-being and connection with the outside without the distractions encountered with views through vertical glass windows.
These facts are well understood by most people involved in building design. However the huge potential of rooflights to provide exactly the amount, type and distribution of natural light required to meet any given specification is not always appreciated by the homeowner. So, whether home working and home schooling is a short-term solution, or something that we all must get used to, the role of natural daylight in the home and the physical and psychological benefits that it brings, cannot be underestimated.
For further information or to discuss your bespoke rooflight requirement contact the Stella Rooflight team on 01794 745445 or email email@example.com
Stella Rooflight designs and manufactures high quality stainless steel bespoke rooflights. From design and production through to customer service, Stella has a single vision of doing things better than the industry standard.
Stella produces exceptional rooflights that combine a flush fitting profile, while utilising the very best of materials and has become the first choice for discerning clients looking to bring natural daylight into their living spaces through premium quality rooflights.
Fresh off from a Guinness World Record for thelargest water fountain, Dubai is now looking to set the benchmark in architecture after completing the ‘longest cantilevered building.’
Simply put, cantilevered buildings are structures built horizontally and are supported only from one end, with the other half left suspended. Chances are you have spotted these gravity-defying architectural marvels in science-fiction or superhero movies.
Spanning a whopping 226 metres and standing tall at 100 metes above ground level, the aptly-named ‘The Link’ is set to break the world record for the ‘longest cantilevered building.’ The structure will connect the two towers of Dubai’s hotly-anticipated mega project, ‘One Za’abeel’ and is slated to complete construction in 2022.
Once completed, ‘The Link’ will play host to observation decks, Michelin-star restaurants, an infinity pool, a luxury spa and panoramic views of Dubai. The best part, ‘The Link’ will feature a glass-floor and glass-wall section where you can feel like you’re floating mid-air.
Ithra Dubai is the developer behind ‘The Link.’ Lifting the structure took over a span of 12 days and was “one of the heaviest lifting operations in the region” weight more than 8,500 tons. 55 jacks and 1.2 km of strands were used in lifting the building.
“The completion of The Link at One Za’abeel is the sum of effort, imagination, collaboration and the desire to create a meaningful and timeless contribution to Dubai. We are thrilled to be part of the city’s narrative and to join its long list of firsts.”
When considering “How Will We Live Together”, it is important to note the projective and future tense of the phrase. The idea not only encompasses ways we already share our built environment but targets the anticipated issues that are to be tackled to facilitate communal and mutually beneficial ways of living.
When looking at what is to come, despite the most recent health concerns, economic disparities, and environmental and social calamities the world is still heading towards dense urbanization with more people moving to cities and requiring safe and healthy housing, which is not always easy to come by. In fact, a recent UN report suggested that “nearly one-quarter of the world’s urban population lives in informal settlements or encampments, most in developing countries but increasingly also in the most affluent. Living conditions are shocking and intolerable. Residents often live without water and sanitation, and are in constant fear of eviction.”
However, if these same settlement spaces are well-conceived and provide dignified living conditions, they can surely promote the development of close-knitted communities among individuals from different regions and backgrounds who were joined by similar aspirations and desire for growth. It is therefore important for architects and designers to consider and suggest settlement interventions and social housing projects that offer healthy personal and common spaces.
Below are a few examples of projects that are bringing people together and suggest practical ways of communal and cooperative living, be it through shared space usage (kitchens, halls, courtyards…) or activities engagement and maintenance of the complex (gardening, cooking), all providing opportunities for displaced, disfavored, economically challenged populations to help each other.
The emergency engage to essential architecture. The first question is: How to offer dignity and functional qualities to a vulnerable population, with different cultures? The project is thought like a little town, a common notion of « habiter » regardless of geographic origin. Between public space and the most intimate space, everyone easily accommodates with a life in community.
The expandable house (rumah tambah in Bahasa Indonesia, or rubah for short) offers affordable and sustainable dwelling options to the rapidly growing populations of Asia’s largest cities. Combining lessons from existing informal settlements, incremental housing precedents and principles of sustainable tropical building, the expandable house is designed to adapt to the fluctuating patterns of resource consumption and expenditure, or metabolism, of its residents.
To improve this image, IBUKU was commissioned by a large company to develop a project that would create healthy, well organized housing compounds for garbage collectors while becoming a mean for social transformation.
A – It is a medina for children – A safe environment, with no cars, where the narrow streets and squares become places to play
B – It is a medina with plenty of open spaces – Public and private spaces are clearly defined. And in the private, the inside and outside areas melt, allowing residents to maintain certain outdoors living.
C – It is a medina with lots of vegetation – Where the inhabitants are encouraged to take care of their plants and benefit from the result.
Care is taken to organize separate entrances to the Health Clinic and Short Term Family Housing on different faces of the building. The building is intended to complement the developing SW skyline while creating an optimal living experience for the tenants with natural lighting and views out to the city.
A new social housing project in Saintes has totally reinvented what living together means. A seemingly inhabited cloud effortlessly signals the entrance to a recently rehabilitated working-class neighbourhood, known as ‘Les Boiffiers’, dating back to the 1970s.
Serving underprivileged families, Winnipeg’s Centre Village housing cooperative utilizes design to help revitalize a neglected inner-city neighbourhood and to provide its residents with a unique setting that inspires pride and encourages community-building.
This article is part of the ArchDaily Topic: How Will We Live Together. Every month we explore a topic in-depth through articles, interviews, news, and projects. Learn more about our monthly topics here. As always, at ArchDaily we welcome the contributions of our readers; if you want to submit an article or project, contact archdaily.
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