RLP’s 3,400 sq. m. extension for the United Christian College (Kowloon East) campus put sustainability and students first. The project called for dormitory accommodations for up to 80 students, a canteen, chapel, gymnasium, activity rooms, basketball court, indoor swimming pool, and outdoor spaces on different levels.
The small, triangular site posed a number of design challenges, as it had to fulfil all these functions while keeping the views and airflow of the existing adjacent school building intact.
Before beginning, RLP gathered stakeholder input from the school's headmaster, teachers and students, who all agreed that sustainability was a key concern. The final design reflects their input, with the new and old towers connected by a cluster of low-rise blocks housing the chapel, gymnasium and indoor swimming pool, with the basketball court on the roof. Natural ventilation was encouraged throughout the complex by uniting the two relatively high structures and placing the low ones in between, strategically employing a stacking effect within atrium spaces, and creating a “wind catcher” – a breezeway between the dormitory block and the indoor pool.
Heat from the southwest-facing main façade is reduced through sunshade fins and landscaping features like trees and planters that block direct sunlight. A green terraced roof insulates the chapel block, while in the dormitories, bay windows allow light from the north to penetrate and provide natural interior ventilation, reducing the need for air conditioning, artificial lighting and energy consumption.
Stakeholder input also highlighted a strong desire to conserve resources. Bare cement flooring was used in the gymnasium, recycled wood and plastics were used for sun-shading devices, fences and handrails. Bamboo flooring and reused and recycled paving blocks were used on floors, while grey water from the swimming pool is used to clean the floors while canteen waste is composted and used as fertiliser.
The extension block has also become a valuable learning resource, as students can monitor energy use and observe how resources can be used cyclically, promoting a sustainable world view.