Javier Martin de la Fuente

Javier Martin de la Fuente

New York, NY, US


Growing Curiosity.

Rather than trying to improve the broken education system, our approach is to fundamentally question the structure of education itself. We set three principles as our core concept: Curiosity, Creativity and Interhuman Connection. Further on we define five spheres of competences as holistic base of our school. Those five competences deeply rely on their interdependence, which is the essence of our spacial proposal. This educational approach suggests a strong support for selfevolvement by giving the students the opportunity to freely draw their own path. This journey is encouraged through an individual goal based system - where the student sets a series of objectives to be reached during the year. Thus breaking the boundaries to a more holistic approach on education. 

Humanities: Everything related to human society and history. Unique spacial requirements: Circular halls, collective classrooms, debate rooms

Expression: Articulate yourself through arts and language. Unique spacial requirements: Workshop, theatres, language rooms, music rooms, photo studio, gallery.

Health: Including physical activities, cooking and meditation. Unique spacial requirements: Gymnasium, collaborative kitchens, meditation & yoga hall, sleeping rooms

Inner Questions: How to deal with existence and the self. Unique spacial requirements: Thinking rooms, interreligious space, debate rooms

Exploring: Discovering the empirical world through logic.

Unique spacial requirements: Laboratories, experiment rooms, robo lab, green house, computer studios 

The interdependent relations between these five competences require a clear connection and equally balanced spacial organisation while keeping the much needed unique spaces. The void between those spaces is to be filled by a connecting and enriching vivid heart - inviting to collaboration and spacial acquiescence.

The unique spatial and historical situation of the existing buildings opens the opportunity to combine the diversity of architectural styles within our school. In this spatial variety we found a major support to our approach. By carefully discussing the historic conditions, we decided to extend this variety in our proposal. The removal of the pitched roofs allowed the creation of an elevated playground at the rooftop level, giving the possibility of a strong public integration in the ground level. The interior of the heritage building is transformed into workshop spaces creating a connection with the community. The existing brutalist structure provides the base for a free configuration of open studio spaces.

Key to our concept is the circulation strategy. The park level is open to the public, while the main entrances are located under the tower and on the roof of the underground gym. Inside the tower is an atrium providing open circulation and collaboration space. Four elements are making the circulation and therefore the spacial discovery more enjoyable. Two fast-travel-cores in the corners of the tower contain elevators and direct firestairs for long distances. Multipurpose stairs in the atrium add up to the collaborational character. A slide system is a fun way of going down quickly, while a backpack lift makes going upstairs easier.

Following our core intention of curiosity and the understanding of the facade as a binding skin for the school revealing some moments but protecting others, the facade is acting as a veil in between the school and the outer world. A vertical wooden facade in the lower levels provides - depending on the gap between the wooden laths - either visual cover or a translucent but sun-screening envelope. To reflect the inner playfulness of the tower onto the outside facade and to facilitate a modular-like arrangement of the inner tower, a second kind of facade is used in the upper levels. Freely configurable and movable translucent fiberglass panels embody the veil, yet divulging deliberate openings to the inner program.

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Status: School Project
Location: Sydney, AU
My Role: Main Designer
Additional Credits: Jan-Niklas Klein - Design Partner