Designmena chats to Mark McCarthy, education design principal at Perkins Eastman, about the region’s education requirements
We are seeing an increasing interest in and dedication to investing in education in the Middle East and North Africa. Particularly primary and secondary education, both in terms of facilities and philosophies.
Tradition remains extremely important. But it is not incompatible with a 21st-century, progressive educational model. The welcome challenge for international firms like ours is to balance respect for tradition and heritage with the energy and spirit of the more progressive educational models taking root in places like Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
We are designing for the 21st century student, for a global citizenry. I think educational institutions in this region are becoming increasingly aware that their infrastructure is inadequate vis a vis their goals—in cultural terms, in terms of being responsive to the regional climate, and in its ability to educate students to meet the challenges of the increasingly global market.
Higher education has been the focal point already for years, and we’re now seeing the same ideas take off for primary and secondary education. Clients, both American schools abroad and regional Middle East schools, look to us to help them build the “right” buildings that will truly support their educational vision and goals.
Our firm is working in several countries in the Middle East and North Africa. Most recently, we have just completed a new middle school and library for Cairo American College, a prestigious international school with a great tradition of serving expat and local communities.
A true community of students and their families, it functions as a veritable home away from home. It’s a demonstration of the future of primary and secondary education in the region.