City School of Architecture

The project is a Competition Entry; for the design of campus building for the City School of Architecture (CSA), Colombo ; conducted by Sri Lanka institute of Architects in August 2019.

The City School of Architecture, Colombo, Sri Lanka, is one of the two Schools of Architecture, in Sri Lanka accredited by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and the Sri Lanka Institute of Architects (SLIA); and was established over 30 years ago under the jurisdiction of the SLIA.

Presently, the CSA operates on very restricted rented premises. However, with the proposed diversified and enhance Architectural educational programs a much larger campus area will be functionally required to provide the students with a conducive learning environment.

In the light of the above, the Management of City School of Architecture sought support of the Urban Development Authority (UDA) of Sri Lanka to intervene in allocating a suitable state land within Colombo for this purpose.

Client’s Objectives

There are international norms governing the design of architecture schools. These are based on the requirement that architecture being a field that depends heavily on innovation and new design concepts to accommodate the challenges facing modern societies and environment, the school where such qualities are to be inculcated into fresh young minds needs to be flexible, non-intrusive and even inspiring; open studio spaces, critique spaces that accommodate large gatherings (but may not always be in use), and additional space for resources like a workshop or digital workrooms spell out “flexibility”.

The whole school may even be a “full-scale teaching tool” that helps the students grasp the principles of structure, the ways materials perform and interact, detailing and other core concepts of architecture.

The overall image of the school building and the environment needs to project the status of the CSA as the leading architecture school of the country; it is the only Private school for the moment totally dedicated to architectural education.

It embodies the stability of a history that responded positively to changing times and has the courage to face the future challenges with supreme confidence. It will harmonize with the environment and its potential neighbors while being noble and unique.

The Site

The reclaimed marsh land site offers views toward Colombo city skyline and railway line to the North-West. All four facades of the building are also intern visible at a distance from the North approach on D. M. Colombage Mawatha and 5th Lane and from the South approach of the railway line to Colombo.

Site linearity is in positive orientation with the sun path; fostering opportunity for passive design strategies; allowing day light and natural ventilation reducing operational energy consumption of building. Therefore a thermally comfortable circulation along the majority of building periphery becomes viable.

Design Principles

Functional and Operational needs of CSA

Performance of the design to function CSA as per the client’s detailed brief is considered a key factor and assigned due diligence. Where the Client’s Brief area requirements exceed the physical floor area achievable; such spaces have been accommodated with a mezzanine floor level or located on a floor of immediate proximity.

Flexible Spaces | Adaptable Solutions

Flexible spaces encourage an inclusive spirit for the school community; facilitating the multi-faceted qualities of learning embodied in an architecture school.

An adaptable planning strategy was followed to locate the studio spaces on Levels 3, 4 and 5; locating the two studios side by side with an independent area of 125 Sq m; divided by a collapsible partition allowing for expansion to form a large space when combined.

Circulation spaces are designed to offer the opportunity for discussion to spill out of the formal teaching spaces and continue in a more informal environment; these spaces serve to extend the ‘learning environment’ throughout the building. The function of mutual learning among students and academics for example can take place in semi-outdoor space.

Sustainable Design | Passive Strategies

The building planning is predicated on the need to gain natural light to minimize energy used for lighting and to create conditions for natural stack and cross ventilation. Thus all of the spaces along the ascending course of in-between space are able to maintain an optimum thermal comfort with minimal operational energy consumption.

Concept | Design Intent

‘The Best and the Richest Classroom is Roofed only by the Sky’       Marget MC Milan

‘We are not saying ‘good bye’ to our classrooms; we are opening them up.’ Simon Beames

Campus with Generously scaled semi-Outdoor space

The challenge however is the compact nature of built mass arising from the site extent and the client’s detailed brief. Therefore we venture the possibility of utilizing the building Circulation and Informal area requirements of brief to form; ‘An ascending Course of In-Between Space’

 A walking path that follows an ascending course along the shaded façade allowing views; accompanied by an oasis of semi-open spaces for informal study, gathering and circulation.

The considerate and deliberate creation of informally contained semi-open space inter-linked with the formal working areas; become real and useful in their own right by fostering a different level of communication, interaction and contemplation and overall learning experience.

Places for recreation and contemplation appear together with spaces for focused attention; allowing interactions between movements, events and spaces; or, in other words, connections between students, activities and architecture are conceived.

The semi-open walking path provides an interactive, collaborative spatial environment offering engagement and dialogue by being open, transparent and visible while recognizing the need for containment when appropriate.

2 years ago