When you think of Hong Kong you probably think of densely packed skyscrapers, a lot of glass, steel, and concrete. But what about urban green spaces? Now, the new French International School is set to provide, not only a green oasis in a city environment, but also an example of sustainability. 42 well-grown trees have been planted around the school grounds, and a 400-meter-long walk takes students on a tour of the native plant species that might occur within a natural South China forest environment.
But the green theme doesn’t begin and end with the landscaping, unusual as the island of greenery may be. The campus has been designed for sustainability.
A 550 Square Meter Botanical Garden For Hong Kong’s Greenest School
Architects Henning Larsen say that everything, from the choice of building materials to the orientation of the building and the way the windows are designed, targets sustainability. The company hopes that both students and local builders who were involved in the project will learn important lessons in sustainability from the building.
Clever Window and Ventilation Design Reduces Energy Consumption
The orientation of windows has a big influence on the indoor climate, and the architects chose North and South Orientations to prevent the sun’s rays from penetrating directly into the building during the early morning and late afternoon hours.
In addition, the windows are shaded with brise-soleils (features that deflect the sun’s rays) to prevent too much of the hot, tropical sunshine from shining in, raising indoor temperatures to uncomfortable levels that would call for increased use of air conditioning. The company says that its choice of brise-soleils also allows for better penetration of natural light and reports that its design has allowed for homogeneous light distribution throughout the building.
“We dissolved the traditional classrooms, and we pushed boundaries on how learning spaces can allow teachers and classes to work together in a more collaborative open space,” says Claude Godefroy, Design Director, and Partner at Henning Larsen Hong Kong.
It’s not only the window-design that helps to keep the building cool. Ventilation systems are arranged to take advantage of natural breezes to bring fresh air into the building – and it’s hoped that the gardens will contribute to the purification of the air.
“A Quiet and Green Oasis In a City With a Scarcity of Space”
People, their education, and their attitudes towards diversity are also important to sustainability, and the school hopes to bring its international and French students together as part of the learning experience. To facilitate this, there are no individual classrooms. Instead, students learn in open-plan spaces that can be opened up to neighboring classes for collaboration and group activities.
With the French International School offering classes to students from 40 different countries in five different languages, children will have no difficulty connecting with their peers from around the world in this multicultural environment.
Involving the Community
It’s not only the school’s student-body of over 1,000 primary and high school students who will benefit from the new building. Henning Larsen says that community inclusiveness is assured thanks to the option of keeping the school’s ground-floor facilities open after school hours.
These include a gymnasium, an exhibition space, a canteen, and the school playground with its attractive green space. With greenery being at a premium in Hong Kong’s urban environment, residents will be able to benefit from the tranquillity of the gardens after hours and over weekends.
The French International School in Hong Kong is not only designed to be the greenest school in the city, but it’s also a space that celebrates every aspect of sustainability. Its architects believe that it will benefit people directly and they hope to provide an example of the advantages to be realized through sustainable buildings, even when they are in the heart of urban environments.