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Stimulating learning | Living Architecture | Creating Community Impact | Materials & Construction Process | A Sustainable Approach | Stimulating Local Economy | Collaborating Community | Site Positioning | Competition Submission
To deal with the extreme changes of temperature witnessed in Khovd, The Encyclopedia is designed as a living building that adapts to climatic conditions and makes optimal use of local resources and environmental factors. On sunny days – even winter sunny days, the building’s external membrane facade opens, to allow direct sunlight through the fixed double-glazing. During overcast days and evenings, the building remains closed as an introvert cocoon to retain a maximum of the interior radiating heat. Lit from the inside, The Encyclopedia is an all round structure, stimulating the access to – and creation of – knowledge. It is a beacon of light, a symbol of warmth, guiding the students towards a brighter future.
To adapt to the extreme changes of temperature witnessed in Khovd, The Encyclopedia is designed as a living building that changes with the changes of temperature from +20 to -45 oC. The building opens and closes to make optimal use of the climate, weather and local environmental factors.
The building’s circular shape is not only conceptual but also practical. The building is engineered to offer the smallest facade surface for the largest interior area, in order to minimize heat loss. In addition, a circular building automatically maximizes its south exposure by partially including the west and east facades.
Since Mongolia gets a considerable amount of sun even in winter, the building’s south exposure is maximised. On sunny days, including winter sunny days, the south facade rotates around to the north side and exposes a double-glazing glass facade, to allow maximum sunlight into the space. The north facade is reinforced by the rotated south facade and together they act as a barrier to retain a maximum of the heat entering the building from the south and the roof as well as the heat produced by the fire, and the one radiating from the floor. On overcast cold days and evenings, the south facade remains closed, and the building acts as an introvert cocoon retaining a maximum of the interior radiating heat.
Inspired from the local vernacular architecture of the yurt, the building’s circular organization offers a non-hierarchical space that embraces students around a central fireplace. This circular design is inclusive, promotes respect, tolerance, and a sense of belonging. It is open and transparent, allowing for an unobstructed visual overview and therefore encourages an open honest behavior and the formation of a tight inclusive community. The building is constantly adapting to the site’s changing climate and environment. It is a self-contained structure that is easily scalable and replicable, to adapt to other extreme weather areas and cold regions globally. The Encyclopedia hopes to become a model that informs the future of school buildings across cold regions globally.
The design and materials selection of The Encyclopedia are conceived in view of the involvement of the local community. The community is part of the pre-(before construction), during (construction) and after (running operation) phases of realizing the school.
1. Before: the consultation
To optimize the design and realization of The Encyclopedia, we would propose that consultation sessions take place with the local community of the project. We define ‘local community of the project’ as the collection of different people starting with the users that are most affected by the school i.e. students and teachers and gradually including other groups such as parents, local builders, other experts, local government, and eventually national government, humanitarian institutions…etc.
2. During: the construction
The Encyclopedia is designed to be constructed easily and by the local builders and community. The sustainable aspects of this project are not limited to the selection of the materials used but rather embedded in the design itself. The building is conceived to make optimal use of natural and renewable resources (such as sun heat and burning fire) and retain them when needed.
3. After: the running operation
Depending on the weather conditions, the external facade of the building opens and closes to create the best interior environment. The rotating facade is lightweight and easy to open/close on a daily basis (with every sunny day) by the school teachers, and even students, by simply using a bicycle.
In this proposal the collaborative approach is not limited to how the interior space is used, but it also includes how the building is constructed and operated. The Encyclopedia is designed to be built by the local community. It is also easy to open and close on a daily basis, simply by cycling. Two bicycles are provided, one for adults and one for children, which allow, through a wheel mechanism, to rotate the south section of the facade towards the north, exposing a double-glazing glass facade. The goal is to take full advantage of the natural south sunlight and heat.
Guided by teachers, the children are able to cycle themselves, to open and close the rotating facade. Involving children in the cycling to adapt their space to weather conditions, will raise their awareness vis-à-vis their built and natural environments as well as vis-à-vis sustainability issues.
The Encyclopedia is a living architecture that teachers and students can adapt to the extreme weather conditions themselves by simply cycling.
1. A circular digging of 1m deep and a diameter of 19.55m is made in the ground.
2. The concrete foundation is laid, including the pit in the center for the fireplace.
3. Along the perimeter of the space, 16 wooden columns are erected and a large wooden ring beam is secured on top. On the inside, 5 wooden columns are erected in a circular way and a smaller wooden ring beam is secured on top of them. The two ring beams are at an inclination of 6 degrees towards the South.
4. On top of the two inclined wooden rings now in place, 29 wooden beams are arranged radially, at an angular interval of 12 degrees. They are joined at their center by a small non-structural wooden ring and closed at their peripheral end by a larger non-structural wooden ring.
5. The interior partitions and finish wooden floor are then put in place. The floor is raised to allow for passive underfloor heating caused by the fire’s radiating heat. Partitions around the central space are transparent glass to allow for visual connections with the center. Radial partitions are translucent glass to create privacy in the classrooms for the children to focus without isolating them, but instead while preserving the connection to the rest of the space.
6. The south facade (including partially east and west) is made of double glazing. The roof, north, and partially east and west facades are entirely wrapped by with a membrane material of polyester fluorocarbon coating. The inner part is covered with removable glass-fiber-cloth membrane. Between the two membranes, a polyester insulator recycled from PET bottles is inserted that penetrates the light.
7. On the South double glazed facade (including partially east and west), an additional rotating layer is installed. This rotating part is constructed similarly to the main membrane wrapping the building, except the wooden structure is replaced with lightweight aluminum. On its inside face, this curved wall has a inbuilt rail that allows it to rotate by means of a wheel mechanism. The two wheels are mounted on the east fixed (non-rotating) facade.
8. This rotating part is easy to move by simply cycling. The rotating facade is hooked to two large wooden wheels located in between the fixed and rotating facades, and connected to two bicycles in the gym. Cycling in the gym turns the wheels which then causes the movable facade to rotate. At the bottom of the rotating facade is an additional rail to ensure smooth movement.
The sustainable aspects of this project are not limited to the selection of the materials used but embedded in the design itself. The building is conceived to make optimal use of natural resources and elements. Besides the generation of direct heat, the goal of including a fire is to constantly warm up the ground and then retrieve the radiation heat generated from it. The building is entirely wrapped with a membrane material of polyester fluorocarbon coating. The inner part is covered with removable glass-fiber-cloth membrane. Between the two membranes, a polyester insulator recycled from PET bottles is inserted that penetrates the light. This composition is based on the idea that by convecting the air in-between, the internal environment could be kept comfortable because of the circulation.
The construction materials of the building have been selected to be as local as possible, this is not only in alignment with a more sustainable practice but has direct positive impact on the local economy. In addition, the building is conceived to be easily buildable by the local community thus offering additional jobs and further stimulating the local economy.
Inspired from the local vernacular architecture of the yurt, the building’s circular organization offers a non-hierarchical space that embraces students and teachers around a central fireplace.
This circular design is inclusive, promotes respect, tolerance, and a sense of belonging. It is open and transparent, allowing for an unobstructed visual overview and therefore encourages an open honest behavior and the formation of a tight inclusive community. The membrane material covering the entire building allows natural light to penetrate the space, thus creating a lively learning environment basked in natural light.
Besides its passive heating benefits, the fire located in the center of the space acts as a warm attractor at the heart of this community.
The new school building is positioned in relationship with the existing school in a way to maximise south exposure and minimize travel distance. An outdoor path offers a protected and direct passage from the existing building to the new school. The path is a multifunctional area that also acts as a shaded outdoor recess area when the weather allows outdoor play.
Gross Building area: 300.00m2
Net floor area: 250.00 m2
Path shaded area: 168.00m2