The American International School of Mozambique in Maputo follows the IB curriculum serving students from Early Learning through to grade 12.
Founded in 1990 with only 46 students, by 2013 the school had reached full capacity at over 500 students representing more than 50 nationalities and was looking to expand to over 750 by 2017.
The school purchased two portions of additional land and launched an international design competition for the refurbishment and expansion of the school, including building new sports facilities, a cafeteria, classrooms and early learning facilities
After receiving a range of national and international entries, Craft of Architecture won the competition with a holistic design approach that focused on delivering an innovative masterplan, together with healthy and flexible indoor and outdoor private and communal learning spaces.
From the architect:
We had embarked on an extensive research project on the importance of school environments and how these features have a direct impact and correlation with students learning potential and results. 6 key principles needed to be considered: Site planning, Landscaping, Healthy Buildings including considerations of Indoor Air Quality, Acoustics and Natural lighting, Insulation, Ventilation & Air Conditioning and Water Efficiency which have all been incorporated as part of the design process of this extension. A passive design was implemented from the initial masterplan.
High on our agenda was water efficiency – waste water is harvested from the bathrooms, kitchens and ablution facilities using a small scale passive wastewater treatment system that is used for irrigating the landscape and we ensured maximum energy savings made through the use of natural daylighting.
Research has shown that daylight is associated with a 20% to 26% faster learning rate and learning spaces with operable windows are seen to be associated with 7% to 8% improvement in student performance. Absence of natural lighting has been associated with altered levels of fatigue and disorientation which we now know undoubtedly inhibit learning potential.
We wanted to create healthy teaching spaces with good acoustic and thermal insulation. Promoting indoor air quality and health through simple design strategies, using low VOC materials, natural ventilation and well-sealed and insulated buildings.
Our design response rationalised and reorganised the layout of the facilities, adding state of the art, sustainable healthy learning facilities. The concept sought to build upon the schools already vibrant and dynamic learning environment.
The school was re-organised into separate mini-campuses, early learning, junior and senior school, arts and music department, science and maths campus, a cafeteria and two completely new dedicated outdoor sports facilities, gymnasium and swimming pool.
The schools old music and drama department was cramped into a single building. Our response was to create a separate free-standing music block consisting of two large flexible performance spaces that could be opened up to an outdoor ‘arts space’ that connected the new building back to the existing drama rooms and art facilities.. The outdoor space became a flexible zone that could accommodate art exhibitions, act as audience seating for music performances, informal teaching spaces for small cluster classes, or simply outdoor hang out spaces for the kids.
Beyond the Music facilities we designed 3 Science and Maths buildings, in a staggered block plan separated by cool shaded outdoor courtyard spaces. The plan was carefully orientated along an east/west axis to maximise on natural daylighting whilst minimising thermal gain during the harshest afternoon sun.
The cafeteria was conceived as the central hub of the school, containing a canteen to accommodate 750 kids, teacher’s meeting space, a multi-purpose hall, tuck shop and outdoor flexible shaded eating space, overlooking a new central green courtyard. The canteen areas are naturally cooled with no air conditioning and the envelope was carefully designed with a large array of solar shading fins on the south west elevation to allow this façade to be opened up for indoor / outdoor flow between the inside and outside seating areas. With high level openable ventilation windows on the eastern side it keep the internal spaces feeling cool by utilising natural cross ventilation and high thermal mass.
The sports facilities were split into two zones on the school’s newly purchased parcels of land. The junior school multi purpose playing field is set to the east, whilst a new gymnasium with covered courts and swimming pool are set to the west. The first phase of this build has seen the completion of a simple lightweight steel roof structure over 3 full-sized basketball courts, together with a 90 x 45m grass playing field. The court enclosure is naturally ventilated being orientated to maximize on the cooling effect of the prevailing north-easterly wind from the ocean. The roof faces down wind with a large stepped opening at its apex, designed to act as a chimney sucking in cooler air from large vents on all four facades as the prevailing wind blows over the roof.
For the future it is planned to implement the 2nd phase of this extension which will include a
50m pool and gymnasium, an early learning pre-school campus as well as support, maintenance and administration facilities.
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