A small crack for a “wall flower” extension
The Alliance Primary School (APS) was built in 1992.Hong Kong buildings are infamously densely built and schools like APS areno different. it followed a hall-mark school typology back-then: amulti-storied building where only a courtyard served as its aperture for sunlight.
Addressing a pedagogical evolution
I was educated in an all-boys catholic school back in the 1980s: abrutalist, cold, sleek, and deadly efficient school. Therewas an elevated platform in the courtyard, where the principal may stand above everyone to spot any mischievous deeds during assemblies and recesses. Back then, schools stood for disciplines, not happiness.
APSfelt that music is integral for children’s development and ithas beena cradle for young musicians and it has a great student orchestra. Yet,APS never had a dedicated rehearsal space.
Perhaps our interventionsfor APS may signify how education in the 21st Century may have evolved.
Two birds, one stone
The only outdoor space for the school will be its courtyard, which is around 200 sq.m, it was also where we would build over with the music hall. We do not wish to sacrifice this precious out-doorspace. Thus, we hovered the music hall above the courtyard, which would retain the courtyard space by converting it into a semi-outdoor auditorium and playground area, hencegaining a music hall.
Massing, structure and acoustics challenges
At first, we wish to build with glass, so that sunlight may still reach the classrooms in the existing building. Glass is not acoustically favoured for a music hall, so we must explore alternatives. Eventually, we have landed on a steel cladding/steel structure option. Butif we build an opaque steel box abutting the existing school, the structure will be overpowering for the existing building.
BIM and computational design enabled us tobuild an irregular steel structure where its gently curved surfaces may glide against the existing building with grace. The two structures - the new and the old, the curved and the rigid –are indialogues with each other, while the gaps between the two contrasting structures would allow sunlight, wind and even rain to season the school.
The rooftop was designed to be beautiful too, so that it may serve asan “artificially natural” landscape that would ritualize the extension without comprising their overall aesthetics. Sometimes, some contrasts are good; some rebellious designs are good.
The music hall interiors are lined with acoustic panels that are overlaid by semi-transparent chiffon. The chiffons would veil the acoustic panels underneath.
It has been a few months since the music hall starts to operate and we have the fortune to witness its actions. We see children playing “tag”(chasing game)even overin a rainy day underneath the music hall. We see children inventing new gamesover the new floor patterns that we have designed.