As the UAE celebrates its 40th anniversary this month, GAJ looks back on designing some of the country’s most iconic education establishments, from Dubai College and Bradenton Academy, to Sharjah Arts Academy, Sharjah Institute of Technology and the School of Business Management at the American University of Sharjah.
Graeme Fisher is the partner responsible for the practice’s education team. He has has a range of experience working with schools, colleges and universities in the design and delivery of education projects.
“We focus on creating an environment that engages pupils, teachers, young artists, designers, scholars and future business leaders through the surroundings within which they study,” he said.
“Schools are not only educational facilities, but places where students grow, play, socialise and share. By studying how young people learn and interact, we design classrooms flexible enough to handle multiple learning methodologies, technology changes, and environmental influences, such as light and acoustics, whilst allowing the users to feel comfortable in their school by the provision of informal gathering spaces.”
For each individual project, GAJ will establish a clear set of guidelines and objectives to identify a school’s specific needs. For example; it created a facility for 3,380 students in Qatar from Foundation Stage up to Grade 12 encompassing a multi-purpose indoor sports hall, library, art spaces and specialist labs.
It based this around the concept of a “street” that acts as the heart of the school where students interact and congregate and walk to various lessons. The street also opens onto the football pitch and outdoor spaces, creating a synergy between outdoor and indoor spaces.
It believes it is of equal importance to maintain this user involvement through the detailed working drawings phase as well as the construction period to ensure the completed building meets the required criteria.
“We are committed to creating completed designs that reflect our client’s individual needs. We will take as much care to design the external envelope of your school and outdoor campus spaces as we do with the interior teaching spaces,” said Fisher.
Other establishments in the GAJ portfolio include; Sharjah University Convention Hall, The Jumeirah English Speaking School, Dubai, The Al Khubairat Community School, Abu Dhabi and Latifa School for Girls, Dubai.