A School for the Future

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INTRODUCTION

IPS has now been in its new building since September 2010. Time in which we have discovered what works and what needs improving. Many of the sustainable design concepts have had to be learnt and require a little planning rather than coming in, in the morning and flicking a switch on or off as the case may be.

We have made a great deal of improvements to the facilities over this time, not least the addition of two artificial grass pitches, two play areas covered with large shade sails and the fixing of sun blinds outside all south facing classrooms to allow the teachers to use their external areas even in the height of summer.

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The Atrium, to our surprise, has been the biggest success story. We have held Art exhibitions, PTA evening events, Carol concerts, Children’s performances and hosted visiting orchestras in the space. Hindsight being such a wonderful thing, if we had realised what we would or could have done with the space we might have designed it differently. A meeting area, a parent coffee area and with all classrooms leading off from the atrium, it is the focus and hub of the school. We hope it will continue to develop and be used by everyone in this way.

We have also added a basketball and tennis court and the PTA have very generously funded the pond area designed by the children of Year 6 and Reception.

The building of Phase II - a multi-purpose pavillion for both sports and theatre productions is still a few years away but the 10,000m2 we have at the moment is perfectly adequate for all the needs of our 280 Primary aged children we have at the moment.

July_2011_218Atrium_2

LOCATION

Rua da Lagoa 171, Bicesse, 2645-344 Alcabideche.

The Google map shows the plot close to Cascais Shopping, Quinta da Patino, Makro, just off the main Estrada de Manique road from Alcabediche to Manique. This road is scheduled for improvement sometime in the future.

Access from Cascais is good and is improving with the construction of various link roads around the new Cascais Hospital. The bypass around Alcabideche will eventually link to the Estrada de Manique with an extension which is currently being constructed from the roundabout near Quinta da Patino.

Access from the A5 will be 5 minutes from Junction 9 either through Bicesse or along Avenida de Republica past the Estoril Golf Club and Quinta Patino as if you were coming from Estoril.

 

DESIGN and PHILOSOPHY

July_2011_171A school of today is of course many things to many people. We at IPS believe that creating the right environment, not only benefits the way children learn and play but also influences the staff, parents and visitors. The architects brief was to maintain the same unique atmosphere we had in our previous buildings (two large town houses) whilst creating light, modern, safe areas for children to work and play in. The resulting design, with many of the classrooms, in separate 'houses', centered around a main administration block, results in almost a 'village' feeling.

A Primary school is often the first time children leave their parents or attend any kind of formal education. It is important to create an atmosphere that is safe, friendly, conducive to learning, and age appropriate. Parents often say that they are surprised how many children attend IPS. Even though we are small, splitting the site creates specific areas for each age group. Children are able to develop confidence by being comfortable within their surroundings and within their own peer group.

We were fortunate that the dimensions of the site actually helped us with this philosophy and were able to utilise the length of the plot to design individual classroom blocks for each age group. First phase saw the construction of six blocks containing two classrooms each with the possibility of an expansion of two more blocks.

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  • CLASSROOMS: Classrooms are all be 50m2, to some, a mezzanine floor will be added, giving a further 25m2 to each room. Blocks are surrounded by their own outside working areas with gardens and shade. This has enabled teachers to make use of the Portuguese weather whereby lessons have spilt outdoors and further expanded working areas without disturbing other classes.

 

  • CENTRAL BUILDING: There are always areas common to all children in a school and we have designed these in the central building, placed between the Infant and Junior sections of the school. This central building contains classrooms for the specialist teachers such as Music, Design Technology, Languages such as Portuguese and Dutch and the small group Learning Support and EAL rooms for which IPS has such a good reputation. The Library has tripled in size from our old one and was further enhanced a few years ago with the introduction of a reading tree designed and built by a local sculptor. The Dining room and admin blocks are also be housed here.

 

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  • PLAYGROUND: Playtime is an important time of the school day and children should be able to enjoy this time in a safe and imaginative area. Playgrounds are split for the Infants and the Juniors with areas for running around, climbing and quieter shaded areas for playing board games or reading and talking. Basketball courts double as playgrounds, creating plenty of room for all children to enjoy a range of activities with children of similar sizes and ages

 

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    • GYMNASIUM and THEATRE: Original designs included a separate theatre below the central building. Although it would have been exceptional for a Primary school to have had separate theatre and gymnasium we had to abandon these plans after bore holes indicated rock, rock and more rock below the building, coupled with a high water table. Both made this design financially unacceptable. Instead we have designed a 400m2 multipurpose hall which will be acoustically designed to allow theatre productions to take place when the hall is not being used for indoor sports. Below this, we are considering building an indoor swimming pool for use all the year round.

     

    • SPORTS FIELD: Together with the gymnasium and playgrounds, the multipurpose field allow children to play games without leaving the confines of the school grounds. IPS has the flexibility to develop many physical games all year round improving children’s skills from an early age.

     

     

    LiderA CERTIFICATION – sustainable assessment system

    We feel strongly at IPS that we and our children should be aware of environmental issues and wanted the new building to reflect this. We have undertaken to follow the guiding principles expressed in the LiderA assessment and will undertake an assessment for certification when the project is finished.

    The LiderA is a voluntary system for assessment of sustainable construction in recognition of the way the project has been managed and designed, is being constructed and finally will be utilised. It is known under a number of different names in many countries, for instance the BREEAM Environmental Assessment Method in the UK.

    The most widely accepted definition was the one presented by Charles Kibert in 1994, which defines Sustainable Building as "the responsible creation and management of a healthy built environment, taking in account ecological principles and an efficient resource usage".

    With this in mind we have endeavoured to use a varity of sustainable technologies, the following being just a few examples;July_2011_230

    Trombe walls in the Classrooms – these are used for air circulation and for thermal comfort. Air is heated by the sun in a southern exposed cavity, drawing in cool air from the classroom through holes in the bottom of the wall and releasing it back into the classroom through holes in the top of the wall.

    Green roofs (literally gardens on top of the roof) for the classrooms – once again helps the thermal properties inside the classrooms.

    An ETFE roof (as used in the Eden project in the UK and the Dolce Vita Shopping Centre in Amadora) for the atrium – has created a large open space with plenty of natural light. The ETFE is much thinner and lighter than glass allowing for greater spans and smaller supporting struts.

    Solar Panels are used for both heating north facing rooms which do not get the benefit of the more southerly path of the sun and for heating water throughout the school.

    Finally, we are using a system known as ‘Solar spots’ to bring natural lighting into the library so as not to continuously rely on artificial florescent lights.

    THE DETAILS:

    • Project Management: EC Harris
    • Final Design: 02arquitectos
    • Contractor: Canas Correira
    • Build Time: 220 days
    • Project value: € 5 million
    • Finance: BBVA
    • Project opening date: September 2010