A small crack for a “wall flower” extension
The Alliance Primary School (APS) was built in 1992. Hong Kong buildings are infamously densely built and schools like APS are no different. it followed a hall-mark school typology back-then: a multi-storied building where only a courtyard served as its aperture for sunlight.
Addressing a pedagogical evolution
I was educated in an all-boys catholic school back in the 1980s: a brutalist, cold, sleek, and deadly efficient school. There was an elevated platform in the courtyard, where the principal may stand above everyone to spot any mischievous deeds during assemblies and recesses. Back then, schools stood for disciplines, not happiness.
APS felt that music is integral for children’s development and it has been a cradle for young musicians and it has a great student orchestra. Yet, APS never had a dedicated rehearsal space.
Perhaps our interventions for APS may signify how education in the 21st Century may have evolved.
Two birds, one stone
The only outdoor space for the school will be its courtyard, which is around 200 sq.m, it was also where we would build over with the music hall. We do not wish to sacrifice this precious out-door space. Thus, we hovered the music hall above the courtyard, which would retain the courtyard space by converting it into a semi-outdoor auditorium and playground area, hence gaining a music hall.
Massing, structure and acoustics challenges
At first, we wish to build with glass, so that sunlight may still reach the classrooms in the existing building. Glass is not acoustically favoured for a music hall, so we must explore alternatives. Eventually, we have landed on a steel cladding/steel structure option. But if we build an opaque steel box abutting the existing school, the structure will be overpowering for the existing building.
BIM and computational design enabled us to build an irregular steel structure where its gently curved surfaces may glide against the existing building with grace. The two structures – the new and the old, the curved and the rigid – are in dialogues with each other, while the gaps between the two contrasting structures would allow sunlight, wind and even rain to season the school.
The rooftop was designed to be beautiful too, so that it may serve as an “artificially natural” landscape that would ritualize the extension without comprising their overall aesthetics. Sometimes, some contrasts are good; some rebellious designs are good.
The music hall interiors are lined with acoustic panels that are overlaid by semi-transparent chiffon. The chiffons would veil the acoustic panels underneath.
It has been a few months since the music hall starts to operate and we have fortunate to witness its actions. We see children playing “tag” (chasing game) even over in a rainy day underneath the music hall. We see children inventing new games over the new floor patterns that we have designed.
CLIENT \ Alliance Primary School Kowloon Tong, Hong Kong
ADDRESS \ 2 Lancashire Road, Kowloon Tong, Hong Kong
AREA \ 300 + 150 + 200 sq. m (approx.)
ARCHITECT \ Krystal Lung, Jonathan Lau, Clarissa Chau, Tiffany Chin, Lawrence Law, Echo Xiang, Enoch Chu, CY Lau, Manfred Yuen
PHOTOS \ Fiona Bao [email protected]
VIDEO \ Kirio Ng, Janet Wong
CONTRACTOR \ Ming Kee Construction (Steelwork) Engineering Ltd.
STRUCTURAL ENGINEER \ James Lau and Associates Ltd.
MECHANICAL AND ELECTRICAL ENGINEER \ Pinebridge Consulting Ltd.
QUANTITY SURVEYOR \ KCI Management Consultancy Ltd.
ACOUSTIC AND AUDIO VISUAL SOLUTIONS \ ON Technology Ltd.