Designing school campuses in the Middle East presents different challenges for the design team. When the project was master planned, Deira International School required totally separated facilities for boys and girls as a result of cultural and religious restrictions. However, the budget required shared use of expensive facilities such as gymnasiums, pools, kitchens, ASSOCIATED FIRMAl Wasl Al Jadeed Consultants, Architects, Engineers & PlannersCAPACITY2,560FEATURED IN2008 Architectural PortfolioSUB CATEGORYCampus Master Planning and outdoor athletic fields.
The architect maximized the site by situating the kitchen/canteen, auditorium, gym and athletic fields centrally for shared access; the boys’ and girls’ schools are on either side.
Even more challenging was the need to be able to convert the campus to a co-educational facility in the future. The plan has multiple classrooms with integrated toilet rooms at ground level so that the boys’ school can become the lower elementary school, and the girls’ school can become the middle and high school. Prayer rooms in both schools acted as “hinges” in the plan and also were adaptable spaces for larger specialty classrooms, such as art and music, when the conversion to a co-ed campus was made.
Shading devices were incorporated in the building design, as well as the exterior play areas, for protection from the hot desert sun. In the second phase of the campus master plan, a second- and third-floor media center was designed over the original tennis courts to provide a covered outdoor connector and play space between the upper and lower elementary schools, which now are co-ed.