— f s o a r k

School for 600





The program is a primary school for 600 children. The site is located in the middle of a quarry field, up on a mountain that overlooks the quiet La Reservé in Santiago, Chile. The program/context combination demands negotiation between different scales of the design elements: The softness and fragility of the children, and their widespread movement at play, are in stark contrast with the immensity and roughness of the exposed quarry walls. The tasks at hand are three-folded: How can these conflicting issues be resolved into a set of cohesive design principles? How can the institution create an identity for the town? What is the discipline, the Order, that makes a school a school?

The proposed design consists of a system of alternating rows of classrooms and play fields combined into a series of platforms, or terraces, which are stacked and slid against each other following the contour of the mountain. In order to allow the movement of children to activate the space, circulation is articulated as a through-flow crossing rows of play fields and classrooms, and whenever it crosses a row of classroom, public spaces such as dining hall, student lounge and library are programmed. Openings are organized to orchestrate moments of immense verticality and horizontality of the site. The heart of the design rests underneath the gigantic overhanging brise-soleli fronting each classroom. The shading device compliments the dramatic scale of the site, and defines a softer zone underneath which is modulated by color, view, light and shades. The suspended void defined by the brise-soleli is a space of no function, of stillness, of child-like wonders.