The University’s goals for the Sabah Al-Salem University City College of Education project included the creation of a strong, individual identity for the College within the multi-college master plan; a student-centered learning environment that would foster a community of learning; and a highly sustainable design with daylight to all classrooms, offices and main circulation spaces. Kuwait’s large swings in temperature"from 5ºC to 60ºC"and relative humidity"from 5 to 85%"challenged the design team to find innovative ways to balance community and comfort with low energy use and environmental sensitivity.
The design solution creates two five-story rectangular buildings containing modular, repetitive ‘a priori’ learning spaces that are juxtaposed against a free-form, undulating ‘boardwalk’ enclosing a variety of ‘a posteriori’ learning support spaces (e.g.: lounges; group study niches; computer stations) that is carved through the length and height of the structures, connecting all floors and functions. The interplay of solid and void between the mass of the buildings and the meandering of The Boardwalk define the architectural identity of the College, and the belief that classroom-based learning must, in the 21st Century, be complemented by an equally vital learning support environment in which learning continues beyond the doors of the classroom.
Accessed from The Boardwalk, a series of large internal garden courtyards " “Oases` " function as major amenity nodes (cafeteria, library, lobby, and auditorium) for the college, filled with daylight and sheathed in greenery, all highly visible from the learning spaces that surround and overlook them.
The building’s self-shading skin creates has been calibrated to its specific solar exposure in order to maximize daylight penetration but minimize both solar heat gain and glare. The addition of a ground glass diffusing fin at each window captures and disperses daylight deep into each learning space, while contributing to the solar protection. Inspired by traditional regional patterned screens, whose twin functions were to shade the interior while providing screened views outward, the College of Education’s richly three-dimensional enclosure uses computer technology to maximize protected views from within the building while minimizing the sun’s adverse effects on the building’s energy performance.
The project is expected to earn a LEED-NC Gold rating when complete in 2014.