Eastgate Elementary SchoolEdit profile
Eastgate Elementary school, completed in 2009, is a replacement school serving 500 students in Bellevue, Washington. The new school design emphasizes the experiential quality of the school to enhance the learning process, reinforce school and community connections, and create a lasting public presence. Designed to connect the building to nature through views and landscaped courts, the school invites the use of the whole site as a teaching tool. The school’s organization in small pavilions and a series of courtyards increases the opportunity for stimulating indoor/outdoor learning. Designed to reveal itself through a gradual development of the shifting relationship between interior and exterior learning spaces, the building encourages a “slowness` of experience and understanding that makes learning palpable. The building and landscape are peers and partners in this slow dance. The heightened attention to landscape design supports relevant learning of arts and sciences and encourages the students’ life-long affection for the natural environment. Material and texture help define scale and distance, and encourage approaching to and inhabiting of spaces. They give human scale to the building and define the building “voids` such as the entry plaza and courtyards. As the building interior reveals itself, the textures and materials become warmer and of smaller scale. The siding pattern and floor textures in the central courtyard respond to the courtyard’s scale, location and to its varied uses - an outdoor classroom, an exterior foyer for community events, a place for small group study, or simply a place for relaxation and meditation. The school’s massing, developed in simple two-story forms, invites a variety of approaches. The front entry via the public plaza welcomes the daily throng of students dropped off by their parents. Under an overhanging volume, a side aisle for individual visitors offers a subtler, oblique approach to the same space. The spatially more remote bus drop off sends students down a landscaped promenade toward the transparency of the main entry, where all these paths of approach converge. Once inside, the means of movement are equally varied, acting as an illuminated liminal space between the landscape without and the educational spaces within.