Repton Abu Dhabi Senior School is located on Reem Island, Abu Dhabi. It stands adjacent to some of Abu Dhabi’s newest landmarks The Gate Building and the Sun and Sky Towers. In such prestigious and lofty company, a strong architectural response is essential and the new school building delivers just that.
Strong Architectural Response
The building lines the Southern and Western edges of the site to form a strong protective outer edge to the busy roads. The Northern edge provides vehicular access, which runs along the Eastern edge discharge in the South East corner of the plot. These Architectural ‘moves’ define a space at the middle of the plot, which becomes the external plaza where drop off occurs as well as the green ‘heart’ of the school. Here, external play takes place alongside socialising, drop off and pick up as well as community social events.
Supportive Learning Environment
Internally, the building houses all Primary age children at Ground Floor, including all Specialist Rooms. Older children are whisked away to the upper floors up the grand staircase placed at the main entrance. Generous circulation routes combined with lockers housing in-built seating allow these spaces to become ‘social streets’, where friends can meet, sit as a group or individuals can create their own world in the midst of the School. The upper levels cantilever outwards to open up the volume and allow more light in from the skylights. This approach not only brings all students together, it also provides passive observation of all spaces to engender a supportive learning environment.
The Atrium is the heart of the building. It is where the students gather and mingle, some sitting on the upper levels looking across the volume to others seated on comfy sofas at ground. During lunch, the space is transformed to allow the children to dine as a group, with the exterior spaces being used when the weather permits.
Bold colours are used to ‘label’ each floor level, with lockers and in-built furniture providing nodes of activity along the routes. Materials are simple, robust, elegantly assembled and lifted by the controlled inlet of natural light from the skylights spanning across the Atrium.
Two key elements puncture the space. The first of these is the Library, which is a deck of cylinders that are staggered to form terraces at each level. Fully glazed, the Library places learning physically and symbolically at the centre of the building. It also houses the Science Garden on its roof as a fun and practical learning area.
The second element to announce itself, is the 6th Form and Theatre block, which activate both sides of the building and give the younger children an inspirational target to become a 6th Former to gain access to this ‘privileged space’.