Educational | Raintree International School
Raintree is a kindergarten designed for children of 1.5-5 years old, with Pre-K, K1, and K2 classrooms, along with supporting facilities such as a library, a cooking studio, and a sensory room. The design of the school was inspired by the school’s Reggio Emilia approach, which recognizes children not as the target of instruction but as active constructors of knowledge themselves. With this approach, the environment is very significant and is considered a child’s ‘third teacher’ and children should be able to express themselves freely when they are in an environment which fosters a sense of exploration, interaction, and expression of ideas.
To preserve the site’s distinct characteristics, it was decided to preserve as many trees as possible, a few of them beautiful raintrees. Environmental simulations were conducted during pre-design to detail design stages to assess the site and building’s shading and ventilation, as the site has a long and narrow strip shape, facing east-west. Results have shown that the annual south wind would enter and exit the site via the narrow ends due to obstruction from neighboring buildings.
The building was conceived as a 2-storey section of connected indoor, semi-outdoor, and outdoor learning space, sweeping under clusters of existing trees, forming two inner courtyards. The narrow and curved plan enhances wind access through the site, especially at the semi-outdoor space which would be used for free learning. The courtyards are connected via the central transitional space, so called the ‘wind channel’, to enhance through-wind from the back towards the front court.
A combination of slanted ceiling with clerestory windows are integrated in classrooms on the second floor. The curved clerestories are facing the courtyards and therefore are shaded by the trees to provide diffuse daylighting to the learning space.
Children recollect their learning experiences with their school environment. Designing educational space which fosters delightful learning experience could help to take part in creating pleasant memories and nurturing kids who are nature-loving, creative, and engaged with the world around them.
The project has received Gold Medal award from the Association of Siamese Architect (ASA) for Emerging Architecture of the Year 2019.