World Academy by Innocad Architecture: 2018 Best of Year Winner for Primary/Secondary Education Project
With a portfolio already strong in museums and offices, Innocad Architecture has entered the educational field with a bang. The inaugural project, World Academy, an international school for nursery through 12th grade, is large in both scale and graphic impact. And the location is equally ambitious, the Saudi Arabian city conjured out of the desert near Jeddah by the current crown prince’s uncle.
The 133,500-square-foot plan centers on an atrium with amphitheater seating. Off the atrium, each level is designated by a particular geometric shape: circles on one, hexagons on two, rhombuses on three. These shapes take the form of light fixtures, built-in seating nooks, and more.
Different colors, meanwhile, identify classroom clusters—the cumulative rainbow effect nodding to “the cultural plurality of the student body,” Innocad CEO and founding partner Martin Lesjak says. Almost everything in a given cluster, from walls to furnishings, appears in the signature color, including lines on the floor that assist with way-finding. Other floor graphics offer erudite snippets from sources ranging from Confucius, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Albert Einstein, Mohandas Gandhi, and Nelson Mandela to the Nobel Peace Prize–winning educational activist Malala Yousafzai.
Handling space planning within the existing core and shell building was a particular challenge. “One of our main intentions was to maximize natural light,” partner Oliver Kupfner says. The sunny, airy result has won the firm another educational project, a 600-pupil boarding school nearby.
Project Team: Jörg Kindermann; Harald Glanz; Eva Lesjak; Michal Kniaz.