Text description based on data provided by the architects*
The brief of the project was to design a school with a value where ‘every child is [considered] a genius’; to be functioned in a curriculum system that does not relied solely on academic scores. The school aims to explore all of the students’ potency(s) – even of those laid outside the ‘formal education realms’ such as: craftsmanship, applied art, ecological awareness, social sensibility, etc., hence it is also required the establishment of growing talent classes.
Programmatically the school is hosting 300 students ranging from preschool to high school. Physically the site was former paddy field; hence the soil possesses high level of water-grain, making it muddy and highly unstable. Additionally the site is also recently threaten by possible seasonal flooding. Socially, the site is situated around mid-low economy settlement; loosely unsuitable for developing a private school, yet economically desirable for its viable land value. Technically, the project was very challenging, as it was involving very tight total initial budget (less than USD 1.2 million) and time schedule (more or less 6 months from design commission to occupancy).
Raw Architecture had successfully delivered the project’s 1st phase to meet all requirements within its desired budget and schedule. Moreover, the design was executed as such to solve all technical difficulties, while at the same time trying to address social issues to its surrounding environment.
The 300-student school is divided into 3-levels of preschool, 6-levels of elementary school, 3-levels of junior high school, and 3-levels of senior high school. Zoning-wise, the program requires the construction of 4 clusters of classrooms distributed in a quarter radial-fashioned site planning strategy to break the formality of the common rigid grid system, and give each cluster ‘adequate openness’ to its natural surrounding settings; of direct sunlight, fresh airflow, and paddy field-views.
The 4 clusters of classroom linked with a star-shaped building, functioned as the children workshop. As ‘living-connector’, the workshop became a kind of creative hub for all of the students; an indoor multipurpose space mostly used for practicing craftsmanship – common area which also opened up to the surrounding.
Alpha Omega school is an educational building with spirit of locality. Located on Tangerang city, it sat on 11700 sqm area with the prior condition of swamp and paddy field. The design responded this unstable soil condition by raising structure to 2.1 m high above the ground. The site itself was chosen as part of design scheme, —corresponding to its natural surroundings, in order to give children sense of closeness to nature, thus invoking outdoor-learning experience. (The building integrates 4 modular buildings, with efficient access point in one central court yard, due to limitation of local land zoning of what can be built and what can not be built.)
Steel structure, not only for its ability to hold structural load effectively, is also chosen for its construction speed and vigorous durability. The whole building based on this framework, from foundation to roof component. Steel in its variation from thickness to treatments, opening chances in versatile details of design. While bamboo, on the other hand, are flexible matter that requires little maintance in long range which always available in that area. This availability also related to brick and concretes in that area.
The structure is combined with bamboo for roof to create parabolic shape which enhance the character of Nipah which can be tilted or bent while keeping the cost constraint on budget. The brick is stacked in solid void pattern to allow cross air circulation in the facade. Meanwhile the polished bare concrete is used as floor finishes as its durability for daily school activity.
Materials, Construction and Technology
The building main structure (main columns and beams) were constructed from steel, lifted above ground on pilotis system. This is to ensure structural stability over unstable muddy ground; while at the same time ensuring construction speed to meet the project’s very tight time schedule, and anticipating the seasonal floods that may come in the future. The building envelope on the other hand, was designed the other way around.
Key feature of the project was to actually implied ‘basic-craftsmanship’ on its building envelopes. That is to say that the main advancement approach executed was to go back and utilized the more-traditional construction methods consisted of brick masonry and bamboo works; a strategy chosen to serve few different purposes.
The localness embodied on the building envelopes were also modified further to enhance its performances.
Such improvements were exhibited at least on: (i) the design of ‘dancing roofs’ which was composed of bamboo roofing installed over steel main beam to infuse more progressive image for the school without losing it’s local-wisdom branding, and (ii) the design of ‘dancing walls’ which was brick masonry layered-out in curving arrangements to enhance envelope’s permeability, allowing more natural airflow’s cross-ventilation to take place.
Project significance and impact
As project’s owner decided to build 1.5km-long entrance (tertiary category) road to connect the main road to the site, even more limited actual (building) cost was available. Constructed in open-cut method, the road’s edges also act as waterways that improves the surrounding drainage system. The road alone costed IDR 500 million (approximately one third of the cost of the land) and open for public use to serve a kind of direct CSR-benefactor program to the local community.
Nevertheless, the steel structure/local crafted envelopes combination strategy had achieved the following:
First, economically the use of basic technics allows the use of local builders (even those who live very close to the site) and local materials, which enable to minimize costs greatly (IDR 2.7 in comparison to what is normally ranged IDR 4-5 million per sqm).
Second, the use of local builders allows local empowerment, acted as direct social benefit to the site’s surroundings. The fact that the school is continuously expanding (to the next phases of construction), hence are also the benefit it contributes to the local builder’s families.
And third, the uncommon choice of using these ‘more vernacular design’ (where on the contrary most private school would wish to display clean simple modernist design) helped to create an image which could ‘blend-in’ not only to its natural setting, but also to its surrounding mid-low economies communities. The school then grew to subsidies 60 percent of its operational cost for surrounding kids and having training class for labour around the school to get school certificate.
Another target of the project is to create a collaborative bonding within people and its buildings. By initiating healthy social cycle with local involvement, has proven to unlocked collective creative process of the construction. This achieved by hiring diversed local craftsman, rather than employing prime developer. This project completed by local stone masonry, to steel welder from Salembaran area, and bamboo craftsmen from Sumedang area. Each have their originality, without losing its ubiquitous understanding of school design.
The local craftsmanship are the answer of 3 problem, which is: 1. Optimum resource, 2. Time constraint, 3. Manpower. Material resource can be found within 5 km from site to accelerate development while reducing carbon footprint at the same time.
In 4 months range, the craftsman are categorized into two types:
(1) Light structure, which is concentrated on roof. Constructed by triangular light steel frame per 600 mm, manpowered by 40 Sumedang craftsman. It’s low-cost material had reduced 30 % initial budget, using bamboo and Nipah entirely.
(2) Heavy structure is built for modular classrooms by Salembaran craftsman constructing masonry and steel framework. By first 2 months, light structure craftsman had constructed dock, followed by roof and ceiling details. In followed 4 month they joined in heavy structure part. The school is built in 4 months time.
The school designed as passive cooling building, which relied heavily on natural cross air ventilation in its construction. The open high ceiling designed as airing pathway, followed by porous solid-void brick on each side of classroom’s wall. This way, interior air flow are circulated optimally without necessity to use air conditioner.
For heat problem, the structure on top of the corridor is cantilevered by 2000 mm to create natural sunshade while providing protection from heavy rain fall. Nipah’s roof, brick’s solid void facade, bamboo’s ceiling and concrete’s floor finishes provides low thermal conductivity materials allows building to cool down in average whole year, interior temperature to 27 celsius degree. it the opening in the building designed for 100 percent daylight until afternoon, and 100 percent LED in the night time.
Yohana Limarno, Iskander Tjahjadi, Eunike, Rendi Riandi, Jeffery Alexander, Esther WaWang. Budiono.
Rifandi Septiawan Nugroho, Bambang Priyono,