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Symbolism through Diversity “Reflecting Cultures on a Bigger Canvas”
Lycée Libanais Francophone Privé (LLFP) is a Lebanese school with a French system located in Dubai that combines different cultures in one place. Throughout human existence, symbols and texts inscribed on walls were the only ways of passing information to future generations.
The project represents this act of teaching through a typographical screen on the educational blocks. This imitates the act of modern-day whiteboard education. The components of the screen constitute the basic unit of learning – “Alphabets”, “Numbers”, and “Symbols” of three countries, representing and reflecting the diversity in the cultures within the region. Moreover, it signifies the tectonic expression of architecture which in turn facilitates the educational mission of LLFP.
The school also is inspired by the strategic vision of Dubai’s climate-friendly and sustainable development. It inspires space users to learn while practicing every day-to-day movement of life.Following the principles of French education, design development started by segregating the site between the age groups that led to the separation of building blocks. To ease circulation between the blocks, connection bridges were arranged on the first level which facilitated the movement of the staff members whose spaces were predominantly located on the first floor. These connection bridges, while easing the movement for both children and the teachers, break the monotony and provide interesting views with well lit up corridors. The spaces also synthesise natural light, control heat gain and provide natural ventilation into a campus organisation.
The centrally located open spaces in the school provide visual connections and opportunities for surveillance by the teachers on the students. Giving a clean passage that compliments the purpose of the focal spine while overwhelming through the open spacious field. Concrete exterior walls on the north and south elevations of the site are eminently treated to admit light, provide natural ventilation and frame views. An elegant curtain wall on the façade will allow a visual connection to the exterior of the school. Insulated walls, insulated roofs, use of efficient energy-rated equipment, efficient material selection, careful choice of landscape, reduced flow fixtures are some of the many salient features that add the project to the list of a few of the platinum rated school buildings in Dubai.
One of the fascinating features of the interior is using different colours that apply as the main design element. Shades of purple colour for the Kindergarten (Cycle 1) stimulate the part of the brain related to creativity and has a calming effect at the same time. Colours of yellow and orange are used for Cycle 2&3 to radiate warmth and happiness.
This combination represents enthusiasm, energy, fascination, determination, attraction, encouragement, and stimulation. Shades of green for Cycle 4 provide positivity and stimulate thoughts of balance, growth, and restoration as it brings the refreshing sense of the natural world to mind. It also adds intensity, elegance and helps stimulate focus and creativity. Blue tones for Cycle 5 call to mind feelings of calmness or serenity. It is often described as peaceful, tranquil, secure, and orderly. It is great for evoking confidence and is associated with admirable qualities such as loyalty, trust, peace, and success.
Today, Lycée Libanais Francophone Privé (LLFP) is recognized by the Ministry of Education and France as one of the magnificent school designs that reflects the French and Lebanese consortium. Furthermore, proudly it has won the Sustainable Project of the Year at Middle East Consultant Awards 2020.
A school is an institution designed to provide learning spaces and a learning environment for the teaching of students (or “pupils”) under the direction of teachers. The United Arab Emirates has a long history as an Arab State, and whilst it encompasses a mix of cultures and a diverse population, it is very international. The internationalisation here is positive and this was the basis of our inspiration. The building takes into account that student’s behaviour and thinking are shaped by the physical environment they are in. The architecture has a significant impact on the student’s daily learning processes and is therefore designed for modern principles. The design took the basic unit of learning “Alphabets & Numbers” which represent the phonemes of any spoken language it is used to write. The building façade has been provided with a screen, an iconic element that sets it apart from surrounding buildings.
The screen combines French, Arabic, English, Latin, numbers, symbols, and landmarks with variations in sizes and orientation. Moreover, these screens are strategically placed to provide shade and reduce solar heat gain on the buildings. Simple masses and building blocks create visual harmony with the open spaces between masses yet segregating different ages of the students. The school accommodated all the functions of a modern international school and creates a safe environment for children to grow and learn.
The school design embraced sustainability concepts and features that contributed to a considerable 37.25% performance enhancement in comparison to the baseline conditions. LLFP achieves Safat Platinum under the Al Safat Rating system. Featuring architectural screen in addition to other shading strategies such as strategic positioning of openings and campus-style setting of the building contributes to a significant 25% solar heat gain. One of the most important aspects is that the design for the school understands the effect of seeking benefits from building orientation in the favourable solar direction. Solar orientation reduces energy consumption in buildings through passive or active systems. Building orientation has been considered in a way that comforts the students, visitors, and other occupants.
The predominant amount of glazing is placed in a direction between East and Northwest, i.e., at 155 degrees starting from East. Dubai, being one of the emirates in the country with the 7th most globally competitive economy, is robustly moving towards sustainable and green initiatives. LLFP considered eco-elements such as – the use of Green Vehicles, which are in favour of zero carbon emissions, adaptation of native local species in the landscape contributing to immediate and long term ecosystem, choice of paving material, and having shade on the paved surfaces to reduce the heat island effect on the site, the use of solar panels and solar water heating systems and LED lights for exterior and interior lights.
This prestigious development supports and reflects the adaptation of the goals of Dubai’s green building projects in reducing the carbon footprint, improve performance, rationalise energy consumption as a whole and represent a successful model of a sustainable economy. The design focuses on the proposed matrix of attaining Total Sustainable Solution (TSS).
The intention is to materialise the key performance mandates for the buildings and site through a rigorous design approach which stems from fundamental considerations associated with climate moving on to passive and active strategies. m
The main concept behind the screen is to reflect and symbolize the culture of the community where the school stand-in through a sustainable perspective. Dubai is a multicultural city with an Arabic taste where many residents tend to search for warm connections to their homes. The front façade resembles a big whiteboard where messages can be written to celebrate certain occasions. With the option to change the 1 x 1m panel, letters can be arranged to present words or greetings to the public. This gives a dynamic feeling to the pedestrians in a joyful way. Since LLFP is a Lebanese school with a French education system in Arabic countries, what is more, convenient than celebrating the three dates important to Lebanon, France, and UAE? LLFP’s façade tells the story and celebrates with the public through the front main elevation.
Fact File Project Name: LLFP Meydan School Location: District 11, Dubai, UAE Client: Lycée Libanais Francophone Privé (LLFP) Company: Dorsch Gruppe – Middle East Lead Design Architect: Bassel Omara Design Team: Ahmed Aglan, Haridas Narvikar, Ixara Valerie Tapales Other Consultants: N/A Materials used for facade & fenestration: Concrete Blocks, Powdercoated Aluminum Sheet, Double- Glazing Panels, Aluminium Fins, Plaster & Paint, Stone Cladding Commencement Date & Completion Date: Construction Feb 2020 – Aug 2021
About the Authors:
Bassel Omara is an award-winning architect, designer, and BIM Manager with global experience especially in North Africa and the Middle East. Today, his name is engraved within many of the region’s successful architectural works in addition to being nominated as Young Architect of the Year 2015 & 2016 and nominated as Architect of the Year 2019 over the Middle East region, winning many awards & honours nationally and internationally.
Ahmed Aglan is an accomplished design architect with over 4 years of experience in the UAE. He won the International Desert House competition 2019 for his project “The Tube House”, featured at Dubai’s RIBA Architecture Festival 2020.
Haridas Narvekar is an architect, designer with global experience in India and the Middle East. He passed from Manipal University in 2015 with a Bachelor of Architecture. He has been working for more than 5 years with Middle East’s leading Engineering Consultancy and his portfolio includes a wide range of projects of hospitality, residential & commercial developments in the region.
Ixara Valerie T. Tapales is a passionate and innovative architect with over 5 years of experience in the Middle East. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Architecture from the University of San Agustin in 2015. Throughout her professional career, she has been working as a design architect in one of the leading and reputable engineering consultants.