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GAJ on creating “open spaces for social interaction” in Dubai

Godwin Austen Johnson's Jason Burnside talks about the design elements of The Arcadia School’s secondary campus

Approximately 800,000 LTI-free man-hours have been recorded on the site [image: GAJ]
Approximately 800,000 LTI-free man-hours have been recorded on the site [image: GAJ]
GAJ has recorded 75% completion on MEP works at The Arcadia School’s secondary campus [image: GAJ]
GAJ has recorded 75% completion on MEP works at The Arcadia School’s secondary campus [image: GAJ]

What was the idea behind the design of The Arcadia School’s secondary campus?

The essence of the design of The Arcadia School’s secondary campus is one that is people-based. It considers spaces for students and teachers while creating a model which inspires learning and cooperation.

As a facility for secondary school students, the scale of The Arcadia School’s secondary campus is much larger than The Arcadia School’s primary campus which we completed in 2016.

The new building encourages students to become more independent by allowing them to explore and experiment in preparation for their next step into higher education.

The design concept focuses on creating open spaces to encourage and foster social interaction. A triple height space forms the entrance creating a transparent and welcoming arrival experience. 

The site had some inherent limitations which challenged the design team to create an innovative design that balances operational efficiency with the student experience. 

The result is an engaging space that builds on the Arcadia ethos of providing a nurturing and stimulating environment for learners to flourish.

What is the plot and the built-up area of campus?

The plot area of The Arcadia School’s secondary campus is 13,095m2 and the built-up area is 24,593m2.

What are some of the sustainable practices that GAJ has adopted for the project?

The Arcadia School’s secondary campus aims to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. 

The orientation of the building and functions within it have been optimised to exploit the view over the central Jumeirah Village Triangle Park. Through careful consideration of the external building envelope design and specification, we have selected materials with high thermal properties to help insulate the building more efficiently. 

Active sustainable initiatives include the use of highly efficient LED lighting throughout coupled with light sensors which switch off automatically when the space is not being used.

We have also used Turbocor chillers which use advanced technology to deliver high efficiency and substantial energy savings.

What are the unique elements of the project’s design and façade?

The façade is a simple palette of materials that have been carefully designed to create a synergy with the primary school. Key features of this will be the arrival atrium at the main entrance of the building which is highly visible to all students, parents, and guests. The cantilevered science block on inclined columns shades a large library underneath, and a natural green planter wall separates the sports pitch from the student drop-off zone. 

What is the overall percentage progress on the project and for the MEP works?

The building is around 80% complete. Work is progressing well and the MEP work is around 75% complete now.

How many workers are currently deployed on the construction site of the project?

At this stage, there are 550 workers on site, but that does vary on a day-to-day basis depending on the requirements of the project.

How many LTI-free safe man-hours have been recorded so far at the project site?

We are proud to confirm that approximately 800,000 LTI- free safe man hours have been recorded to date.

When is the project expected to be completed?

Developed by Arcadia Investments Ltd & Global Oasis Properties LLC, the project completion is planned for the end of March 2020.

How is The Arcadia School’s secondary campus different from other education projects that Gaj has carried out?

As leaders in the field of the design of educational buildings, we understand and value the opportunity to create unique buildings for school operators and each one we deliver is tailored to the specific requirements and brand identity of the school. 

With this new school we wanted to ensure brand consistency and a design approach to support the ethos and visual identity of Arcadia. Drawing inspiration from The Arcadia School’s primary, the reception is bright and airy and opens out into a large casual seating zone with a unique 12-metre-high indoor climbing wall feature.

The idea of the wall is to reinforce the school’s ethos of transparency and its desire to ensure students play a highly visible and interactive role in their education.

With a strong focus on art and design the studios have been located on the top floor using large glazed walls to capitalise on the abundant natural light and spectacular view of the Dubai Marina skyline.

A particular focus has also been given to social spaces. For example the double height student dining area with its external terrace faces out over the park. The interior design of this space was intentionally sophisticated to avoid a standard canteen experience and encourage students to engage with the space and each other. 

Located close to the primary school the new secondary school also features a full-sized artificial pitch, 25-metre swimming pool and MUGA court, which can be accessed by the primary school when required.

This sharing of facilities helps with the transition from primary to secondary education building confidence for the students about moving to the next stage of their education.

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