Desa Mahkota is a nationalsecondary school designed to accommodate up to 1200 studentsand up to 60 teaching staff. It is located on an elevated 1.8 hectare urban site in Malaysia’s capital city, Kuala Lumpur.The school has a built-up area of 13,000 m²with multi-purpose hall, classrooms, science and IT laboratories, library canteen and administration rooms. In the Desa Mahkota School, linear building volumes of different heights and lengths are arranged in a serrated manner which automatically create courtyards of varying character and sense of scale. Each courtyard is further distinguished by the different colours assigned to the building facades. The courtyards play a major role in keeping spaces cool during the day, especially when the natural landscape has fully matured. They provide a cool respite and soften the angular geometry of the building blocks, making them feel less institutional.
Desa Mahkota School seeks to improve the standard typology typically found in Malaysia. Like its predecessor, the school’s classrooms, labs and offices are stringed along open corridors one side. Here, classrooms are single banked, andhave openings on the windward and leeward side, allowing cross ventilation to occur. This means that rooms are naturally well ventilated and brightly lit.In the tropics, east and west facades are generally more problematic to shade due to the direct exposure to morning and afternoon sun. This school avoids the problem by having all windows and door openings face north and south. Fins and overhangs on all south facades and open corridors on the north facades help shade rooms from direct sunlight and reduce glare.Ceiling fans are used to increase the movement of air in a room.
Ceilings and floors are deliberately left bare, exposing theirstructural concrete surfaces,so that their thermal mass can help regulate daytime temperatures. For example, heat is absorbed by the concrete slabs during the day and released during the night when the classrooms are not in use. Rooms are naturally ventilated during the night to remove the released heat from the space.
Industrialised building systems are used in the fabrication of structures. Concrete floors, columns and beamsare prefabricated off site and brought to the site for assembly. This approach saves timeand costs and allows workmanship standards to be kept high during construction. In terms of space planning, the school seeks to create an open communication where the experience of moving through the school is particularly rich experience. A continuous seriesof ‘common’or ‘public’ spaces made up of corridors, multipurpose hall, informal play area and canteen become places for school children to play and socialise. Theselinked spaces are considered an ‘architectural promenade’ where a lot of informal teaching and interaction between students will take place. This promenade acts as a communication, supervision and social artery closely linked to the academicrooms and green spaces of the courtyards.