School building as sculpture

A design concept for arts education in Shoreditch approaches a building as art

By Alex Tsaparis and Enrico Beer Boimond

For our recent entry in the Start magazine competition to design a School of the Arts in the UK, we approached the building as art sculpture.

As a historic home for theater, music halls and textile industry, Shoreditch has a rich heritage of creativity, craft and artistic expression. We see The Shoreditch Institute of the Arts as a catalyst for the continued artistic growth and renewal in this district of London.

We chose a sculptural form for The Shoreditch Institute of the Arts. It moves and dances with both its urban surroundings and nature. The Institute is designed to enhance the existing outdoor play space of Hoxton Primary School while setting the stage for social interaction and inspiration between the two schools. The earth gently slopes up from Hemsworth Street and Ivy Street, while creating a large east-west playground and passageway beneath the Institute for Hoxton students. Stepped terraces are carved into the sloping earth and flanked with vegetation and pools of recaptured rainwater that act as a natural filtration system for the Institute.

The undulating façade extends into the northern park along Hemsworth Street and recedes back as it turns and faces the Hoxton Primary School. This allows more natural light to flood into the building activating the space between the primary school and the Institute of the Arts. We selected a cascade of glass bricks for the facade, pushing the boundaries of a local building material. The glass bricks give one a view into the Institute’s activity and structure from the outside, while providing diffused lighting which is preferable for the art labs and classrooms on the inside. The classrooms, labs, and other programs are arranged around an expansive light-filled court. Stairway promenades connect all three levels creating spaces for out-of-class performance, collaboration, and interaction. Modular walls and furniture systems complete the classrooms and labs, supporting cross-disciplinary collaboration and creating boundless opportunities for inspiration between artistic disciplines.

To see more entries and the winners of the School of the Arts in Shoreditch competition, visit Startfortalents.com.

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