Haileybury SchoolEdit profile
Located on a greenfield site on the banks of the Esentai River in Almaty, this project is ‘an innovative learning environment’ for 960 pupils, where students are prepared for IGCSE examinations and the International Baccalaureate. Haileybury Almaty is the result of collaboration between a long established English school and a group of Kazakh business leaders. The school has been created to support a vision that allows young Kazakhs to remain in their home country and receive an education that is intended to equip them to gain entrance to any university in the world. HOK’s aim therefore was to provide a learning environment that met the vision of the project, namely a new approach to teaching and learning in the largest city in Kazakhstan. The strategies adopted to answer these challenges rely on the separation of formal and informal learning spaces. Traditional ‘classrooms’ are provided in a series of simple in-situ concrete framed structures, free from internal columns. They are rigid enough to cope with seismic activity in the area but flexible and simple to adapt as needs evolve. Between these more formal structures are three informal areas beneath free form, lightweight roofs covered in highly insulating ETFE cushions. These spaces provide communal space at the entrance to the school, an informal space for the younger pupils and at the centre of the school, a learning resource tailored for independent and project based learning. The architects highlight many challenges that were faced throughout the project’s development. They were required to provide a dynamic building that celebrates learning within the framework of Soviet era building codes, as well as designing and constructing within a maximum of 20 months in order to meet the planned opening date. Meanwhile, the Kazakh construction industry struggles to deliver new buildings and relies on skilled craftsmen and managers from Turkey. Locally produced building materials are limited and imported materials have to be delivered via extended overland supply routes. Furthermore the city is sited in one of the most seismically active regions of the world and the climatic range swings from -20 degrees in winter to 35 degrees in summer. Despite these challenges, the project was completed on schedule.