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Sustainable Educational Environment

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Following the vision of client Bouy Group, Dubai of providing excellence in knowledge by creating a collaborative environment that empowers students, parents, teachers and the community, Gurgaon, India based Studio KIA charted an unconventional approach to design Shining Star International Schools in UAE.

Already in existence with 1400 students displaced from Villa Schools in the vicinity, Shining Star International is operational in Mussaffah in Abu Dhabi. An expansion to this school – approximately 3,40,000sqft was designed helping to raise the total strength of the school to up to 3000 students with another K-12 school for over 4,000 students in Dubai.

The Studio KIA team, spearheaded by Ar. Rajiv Khanna and Sabeena Khanna, strategically planned the school as a series of crafted and specialized spaces for learning. Interconnected for ease through an inviting, fluid and open space, play and learning intermingle into one experience. The architect and his team concentrated on weaving in the comforts of home in an educational campus. The visually appealing building is highly functional, providing students with a practical state-of-the-art facility, creative learning environment and a safe & secure haven.


“Designing schools in the Middle East is a challenge. Strict norms and mandates across various related authorities and agencies adopting international standards of quality assurance and environmental ratings matching Pearl Building rating standards as laid down by Estidama had to be met up with. Rajiv Khanna

The Spatial Design

The design philosophy is based on the principle of creating a welcoming experience for the children and to ensure a happy and productive study environment. A unique dialogue is formed between the new and the old, crafting a harmonious symphony across the space-time continuum without mimicking the classical architectural style. The amalgamation of elaborate detailing and flamboyant gestures as also a subtle series of spatial interventions provide a coherent campus with a broader range of activities which align with the school’s pedagogic aspirations. In addition, the architectural style adopted displays a sense of belonging to the region yet being timeless in appeal. Outdoor Spaces act as transitional zones. A light filtering façade enables the view of the outdoor greens from the classroom windows.

The classrooms are well lit, spacious and cheerful. Each classroom can comfortably seat 30-35 students, storage cabinets as well as ample circulation area. The Kindergarten classrooms have attached toilets as per mandatory requirements. The K-12 school has segregation of classrooms for boys and girls from grade III onwards thereby challenging our design skills to create spaces conducive to both with independent ingress & egress to and from the school building.

Color has been introduced into the interiors to create an environment of playfulness. Classroom walls with colorful motifs and bands, flooring patterns, multi colored kindergarten furniture, welcoming school lobbies and color coordinated, wide corridors for children movement with anti-skid tile flooring, intricately colored floor pattern and the overlooking spaces establish a meaningful place for children.

The Outdoor Design

The architecture language is determined by details and a grand, imposing main entrance. Large, arched portals highlight each entrance to the school building. A pulsating resonance of traditional elements with a modern approach in the façade enhances the overall experience of the built form. The use of a limited palette of materials and colours gives the building an air of sobriety in service of light and use. The strategic and consistent use of these neutral colors establishes a stimulating and playful identity for the campus, acting as a visual connective throughout the children’s daily experience. Neutral structure of the exterior is designed as a canvas for the future setting with an intention to let the children “conquer” the environment by their own intervention.

Safety of children and unhindered movement throughout the school have been planned with care. Children commuting by buses will alight on a pedestrian sidewalk which is segregated from the vehicular road via fencing and enter the school in complete safety. Playful architectural interventions occur at children’s scale creating informal sit outs and internal play zones in and around the kindergarten block. All materials are chosen with respect to minimize maintenance efforts and to maximize their durability.

Bus bays within the campus do not interfere with the circulation movement of the children. Car parking spaces are provided along the periphery of the school campus with dedicated multiple drop offs along the boundary and entrances thereon. This ensures distribution of the pedestrian traffic for ease of movement into and from the school. This also accentuates the sense of freedom as the play areas are kept segregated from the vehicular traffic. All spaces are connected and visible thereby enhancing supervision.

The pedestrian walkways and corridors have been shaded as also the play areas to withstand the extreme climate of the region thereby creating a cooler micro climate. The orientation of the building has been done so as to minimize direct heat gain and is climatologically suited thereby reducing the air conditioning load required for the school building.

“The outdoor play areas are closely protected by the building façade as well as tensile sails. The school features three main concepts. Boldness: Enhanced simplicity, spatial depth with transparency and fluidity. Color: Bringing the joy of color in an elegant and subtle manner to the context. Brightness: open, spacious and inviting layout.Sabeena Khanna

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