Phnom Penh, Cambodia
The Neeson Cripps Academy is a school for secondary education in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, built for the Cambodian Children’s Fund.
Located in a neighborhood of extreme poverty adjacent to the site of the former Steung Meanchey garbage dump, the school provides high-quality education to 400 of the city’s most disadvantaged children, aged 13-18, with a robust English-language program, STEAM curriculum, and globally connected learning.
The school building is conceived in two parts. Along south wing is composed of open-air classrooms and flexible enclosed learning spaces accessed by outdoor walkways. These rooms are dual aspect and benefit from passive cross ventilation.
An intricate bamboo screen and deep overhangs shade the façade. The north wing contains science labs, an art studio, computer lab, film and media room, galleries, multipurpose spaces, and administration offices which are conditioned by highly efficient mechanical systems.
Filtered outdoor air in supplied to all classrooms through energy recovery ventilators, optimizing indoor air quality and boosting learning capacity. A combination of deep vertical and horizontal brise soleil provides exterior shading.
The design prioritizes use of daylighting in classrooms and circulation spaces to reduce demand for energy and provide learning benefits to the students. On-site photovoltaics provide a portion of the school’s energy needs, and low-energy lighting and low flow fixtures reduce operating costs. The photovoltaics are integrated into the roof design as a rain and sunshade that protects a multipurpose sports court.
A significant portion of the building is dedicated to flexible gathering spaces designed to encourage strong long-term social networks and collaborative learning among students. Much of the ground level is open to provide a covered gathering space with a visual connection to a large courtyard garden and to lessen the school’s vulnerability to flooding.
The titanium white board-formed concrete pavilions engage with the landscape, gently curving to catch natural light for the interior. The concrete finish is made up of 4” tongue and groove Douglas fir boards that lined CNC plywood forms. From a distance, the concrete appears monolithic and seamless but when examined up close has the scale of wooden boards that relate to the body and hand, while simultaneously showing an imprint of the building process.
While all different in form, resisting any defined geometric description, the three pavilions are connected through their ruled-surface geometry. This strategy creates a language of forms, from conical sections to hyperbolic paraboloids, visual acoustics echoing across the pavilions, cupping space between them, and dispersing sound on the inside.
Inside the building, a newly developed crinkled concrete texture lines the walls of rehearsal and performance spaces, integrating acoustical qualities directly within the structural cast-in-place concrete walls.
Natural light is given to all spaces via translucent, clear and curved glass. Through etching the glass, and sandwiching translucent white films between layers, luminous surfaces diffuse light deep into the interior, and glow outward at night.
Windows are positioned to provide views through the full depth of the interior, from the entry lobby and rehearsal and event spaces to the river and landscape beyond, encouraging creative curiosity and dynamic interaction.
With The REACH, the Kennedy Center’s direct connection to the Potomac River is finally achieved, more than 50 years after it was lost in Stone’s initial design. A new pedestrian bridge, which appears to float over the parkway, allows easy access to and from the Rock Creek Trail and the Georgetown waterfront.
The newly expanded campus positions the Kennedy Center as a 21st century, future-oriented arts institution, and celebrates President Kennedy and his significant contribution to the arts and American culture.
Architects: COOKFOX Architects
Design Team: Pam Campbell, Richard A. Cook, Ciaran Conlon, Giacomo Vischi Mark Canfield, Tarlton Long, Tyler Caine, Julie Fisher, Antrisksh Tandon, and Marguerite Lefevre
Client: Cambodian Children’s Fund
Photographers: David Yeow