Dulwich College is an international school located in Singapore. All design aspects, from the generator of spaces to the landscape approach and symbolism, starts from the same teaching philosophy and objective as the school -‘Children come first’. The design is a place that is custom-made for the children.
DESIGN PRINCIPLE OF FREE MOVEMENT
Research on play-based pedagogy and intensive workshops were conducted over three months with the educators to formulate and curate a landscape environs that is in synergy with the school’s curriculum and goals, and grows with children’s changing needs and interest. The landscape environs are designed to support the evolving nature of play and education as children grow. The design allows children to make own choices within fixed invisible spatial boundaries.
Amoeba-like form is employed elementally as a design generator for the landscape design of the Early years & Junior School. Flexible spaces open to interpretation on how they can be used. This supports abstract play and provide spaces for the building of interpersonal relationships and sociability.
The landscape design of the Senior School, allows free movement yet adds a disciplined approach in spatial use. This meets needs for set boundaries for growing teens while still providing explorative space.
EARLY YEARS (2 – 7 YEARS OLD)
In early child years, individual play is preferred with adult supervision and often with experimentation on touch, sight and sound. As they develop psycho-motor skills, they enjoy activities with abstract elements. With the onset of social awareness, they usually play in groups, thereby fostering interpersonal relationships and sociability.
The landscaped spaces designed in the Early Years are meant to facilitate the children’s development. The outdoor classrooms, playfields at 2nd-4th storeys and the rooftop Traffic Rule Garden are designed with the concept of free movement and abstract play.
Mounded islands of various landscape themes are designed to encourage exploration and social interaction.
JUNIOR SCHOOL (7 – 11 YEARS OLD)
Children of this age group gravitate towards activities involving movement and action, namely developing organisational and physical skills. They enjoy testing dexterity with elements such as climbing nets and other complex structures using different motor responses. As they move towards pre-adolescence, they opt for grouping together, but without adult supervision or interference from younger children. They also like to demonstrate their power of balance and coordination. Structured games with objective rules, played in groups or teams, tend to predominate for this age group.
The landscape nodes and programmes are centrally placed in the shared courtyard to encourage active participation and bonding. Independent play structures such as the Play Curl and Tree House are designed for children in the Junior School. The Rugby Field and play field are located near the junior School to facilitate playing of structured games.
SENIOR SCHOOL (11 – 18 YEARS OLD)
As children mature into teenagers, play revolves around social activities and interaction. A sense of self-identity is developing with increased feelings of independence. The landscape design while still allowing free movement, adds a disciplined approach in spatial use, creating a set of boundaries while fostering room for exploration. Various social space sizes for interaction and/or solitude are carefully located. The landscape design curated at this Courtyard presents a graphic collection of socio-activity pods, allowing students to interact freely and develop their minds outside classroom environs. The Courtyard has a special place and space for everyone with its pods allowing a myriad of activities for an individual or as a group. ‘Dots’ or circular planting holes in the Courtyard hardscape are planted with mono-species, as a flora collection for education and interest, whilst trees define activity circles and create a conducive atmosphere.
Children are our future stewards of earth. Enabling children to be comfortable with the outdoors is to surround them with the wonders of nature. The softscape design is inspired by the tropical forest and its habitats where children discover a myriad of 100 flora species of different sizes, colors and textures. Close proximity to high biodiverse Tengah forest and Jurong Lake district, aids to enrich the school’s biodiversity by introducing butterfly and bird attracting plant species. The Leaf Area Index achieved is at least 22ha on a 5ha site, with a 4.9 green plot ratio creating a verdant lush campus.
The shared cafeteria has a welcoming alfresco dining terrace shaded by a tree grove of Caesalpinea trees with a 40m long by 6m high green wall. Here, enveloped by greenery, children are exposed to varied flora species range that add much texture and color interest in the changing seasons of drought and monsoon creating an everchanging landscape.
Architect: DP Architects Pte Ltd
Playground design: Playpoint (Singapore) Pte Ltd
Greenwall Consultant: Greenology Pte Ltd
Project location: Bukit Batok West Ave8, Singapore
Design year: 2012
Year Built: 2016