Saudi Arabia, Saudi projects, Education projects, GAJ, Godwin Austen Johnson, Jason Burnside, Education design

Dubai's GAJ reveals new school campus design for Saudi Arabia's Aziziyah province

Dubai's award-winning architecture and design practice Godwin Austen Johnson (GAJ) has recently revealed its design for the International Schools Group (ISG) campus in Aziziyah, an eastern province in Saudi Arabia. 

The project required state-of-the-art design that could meet the evolving needs of the 21st century learner, a statement released by the firm explained. Furthermore, it also needed to accommodate both American and British curricula within an interconnected series of buildings and shared facilities, catering to nearly 2500 students.

"We wanted to achieve a clear, single identity for the client, whilst catering to two differing curriculums," added Jason Burnside, partner at GAJ and head architect on the project. "We had to achieve operational efficiency for the owner by maximising shared facilities and avoiding duplication.

"Each building, though similar in layout, was adapted to represent the branding of each individual school and their character through a common palette of background materials overlaid with individual accents."

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Burnside added that at the heart of the design is a common courtyard, which allows students from both systems to play and learn together. Intended as a symbol of tolerance and cooperation, the courtyard serves as a meeting ground that reinforces positive ideals. 

Both schools feature a central atrium layout surrounded by classrooms. A central learning hub occupies the ground floors of the junior education buildings, and places collaborative learning at their cores. The junior schools are separated from the senior schools by a common dining area and student plaza, which links to a common sports field.

The buildings incorporate a combination of blended learning hubs and breakout spaces, which are located throughout the key learning stages to provide maximum opportunity for teachers and pupils to engage in collaborative learning and activities. 

Additionally, independent sports halls link to a central gym and dance studio and act as fitness spines that run parallel to the race track, sports fields, swimming pools and external courts.

Careful design and consideration of the bus and parent drop-off zones within the site places pedestrian movement and student safety as the highest priority during peak times, explained Burnside. 

Externally, the landscaping was developed to concentrate the planting in student and parent areas while implementing desert planting strategies further away from the buildings to conserve water. This also links to a grey water system and solar powered lighting for external areas that reflect the school's overall ambition to have low energy buildings.

"Once constructed, the new ISG school campus will be the premier educational facility of its type in the Eastern Province of KSA," said Burnside.