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Circular wall featuring inhabitable holes encapsulates elementary school designed by Daaz Office
Iran Architecture News - Jan 07, 2022 - 18:11 1439 views
Named Jadgal Elementary School, the 480-square-metre school was constructed with the participation of local people in the village to prioritize the needs of local community.
Diaz Office completed the project as a result of a call for the construction of a school integrating a sustainable development approach by a non-governmental organization called Iran-e- Man.
The organization has experience in the field of school construction for several years and with the effort of people and youth of Seyedbar-Jadgal village - 100 km from Chabahar - from this institution to build a school in their village.
From afar, while the local people perceive a series of smoothly-designed large openings on this circular wall, the spaces belonging to the school within the rotating wall consists of the seven-piece units forming the other program elements of the school. The circular wall with the openings give a clue about the function of the building.
When the project brief is assigned, the architectural design team and project facilitators voluntarily began designing and supervising the project construction process.
"Initially, the team carried out architectural and social studies in the village and the region for several months. In a participatory way, the needs and shortcomings, potentials, and capacities of villages and indigenous peoples were identified, themed, and prioritized," said Daaz Office.
"Considering that this project had a limited budget and was to be built only by people's donations, we did not plan "a build and donate" scenario and instead opted for a participation method of Construction that would promote sustainable development and produce social, economic, and cultural infrastructures."
"As a result, we designed a school with the idea of becoming the village and its dependent communities' development center. In this way, the school was a place of education for children and a point of gathering and learning for everybody in the village," the firm added.
"In order to materialize this idea and in cooperation with social facilitators, some fundamental works such as doing group work, inviting villagers to maintain the hygiene and cleanliness of the village, building septic sewage, and setting up a needlework workshop and an Instagram page -called @Banook to showcase and sell needlework products- were undertaken. In this way, the women of the village were engaged in social activities."
"However, it also promoted their presence in the social and economic realms of the village and helped women to be socially seen as more effective."
"In addition, in coordination with the social participation method of development, people of the village helped by working as site laborers to build the school. But that was not all they did as the village families contributed financially and helped by selling needlework for the school to materialize. This way, the school was built by public participation and gained the goodwill of everyone in the village," the architects added in a project description.
The program elements of the school contain four classrooms, a children's play area on holidays and nights, a gathering place for villagers and their families, a place to watch movies and football in groups, a library, and a tourist residence.
The social and economic viability and sustainablity of the project were key design elements in the project. While the school is managed and maintained by a team of villagers and teachers, and one part of an income coming from the tourism and needlework sections is spent on the school's maintenance.
In this way, the school is built with the participation of the villagers and is eventually maintained.
The school consists of four elementary classes with adaptable units to combine and overlap with each other, another functions include a library, a multi-function hall working as a conference room, workshop, or exam hall, and main and secondary play yards that are designed while aiming to become the village's community center and educate its whole population.
The studio used a circular shape for the school as circular geometry presents more "hierarchical systems in a democratic style" for education, evoking the sense of learning together.
"Considering the population of the students in relation to teachers in this village, and through adhering to school renovation codes, the school needed four classes," added the architects.
"In designing the classes, each two-class varying in size were connected to each other. In the largest category, there is an intermediate space that enables the younger students to join the larger class, taking advantage of the training of one single teacher, necessary due to the limitation of teaching personnel, as well as giving them a space to engage with senior students."
The rotation of the class layout as easily managed while connecting them on their corners. Thanks to this geometry, it also allows for passing air circulation between the classes and produces small secondary yards for doing some group work and outdoor activities.
"Consequently, with this spatial diagram, we gained a central primary yard in the middle of the school as an assembly point for school children and village residents, a circular space around classes and between the thick penetrated wall and classrooms, as well as private yards," added the studio.
Material choice was a key aspect in design
The material choice, using local construction techniques and creating a earthquake-resisting structure were another key aspects of the project, according to the studio.
The studio emphasized that "In alliance with the school renovation codes by the Legislative Institution and Control of School Construction in Iran and the necessity of building earthquake-resistant structures, the school's structure was constructed with the ICF method, Insulating Concrete Formwork."
Since the project has a curvilinear form, the school was built without using any columns, utilizing polystyrene panels (EPS), galvanized iron profiles, and reinforced concrete.
For the final coating layer, the studio preferred to use a semi-local material made of cement and local soil, known as Simgel - that prevents rusting due to floods and excessive rain. This type of finishing also creates a harmony with the surrounding colors and textures.
According to the team, in case of destruction or cracking, it can be easily repaired by the villagers.
"The concept of a surrounding wall is traditionally understood as protector, separator and generally stands for a masonry-built guarding device. In this project, however, through the school's unique location, being in the middle of a relatively flat vast field, the school wall was treated as a penetrated inviting playful shell," added the design team.
"The openings within the wall are arranged so that from the point of view of a seating person in the class, the extension of the surrounding plain can be seen."
"Having various sizes and shapes, these openings provide students with multi entrances to arrive at the school. Moreover, by increasing the thickness of this continuous yet penetrated wall, some essential functions of the building such as a tuck shop, a school guard's room, and a storeroom were housed while the main entrance was emphasized, gaining depth and inviting people within," the studio continued.
In designing this school, the architects envisioned an educational space as a dialectic, bilateral, participatory driven concept, and accordingly, the conventional school spaces that act as platforms of these ideas were transformed in this manner: converting school wall from "separator" to a shell structure that performs as a penetrated borderless playful skin that invites people to gather and encourages the community culture while reinforcing communication between people.
This transformation was performed in order to destroy hierarchy and strengthen questioning culture, shining a light on the most basic meaning of going to school, which is "being together". In conclusion, the studio aimed to create a school that is a nest for nurturing creativity, freedom, and critical thinking.
The team explained that "The project started with an effort to change the villagers' intellectual and social layers, empower rural women, create public participation, and turn it into a lever in building a school."
"Finally, by challenging the political and social concept of the boundary (The Wall) between free will and coercion in the presence of the school - in a society traditionally dominated by tyranny - it was able to overwhelm the mental majority of most villagers - who initially opposed the Construction of the wall and make the school the center of the neighborhood and gathering of all residents. An exercise to influence architecture in the transition to democracy."
Yard sharing plan
The wall diagram
Project name: Daaz Office
Architects: Daaz Office
Location: Seyyed Bar village, Iran.
All images & drawings © Daaz Office
> via Daaz Office