International School of Kuala Lumpur celebrates opening of new campus

Posted on 7th Oct 2019 in School News, Malaysia

The International School of Kuala Lumpur (ISKL) has celebrated the grand opening of the K-12 campus on a 25-acre site in the heart of Malaysia’s bustling capital city.

The International School of Kuala Lumpur has been established in the city for over 50 years and has grown to become one of the leading schools in Malaysia. From its initial cohort of 48 pupils, the school had expanded to accommodate sustained growth on two geographically separate sites. Yet as the school entered the 21st Century it became apparent that to continue to grow, redevelopment on a new site would become inevitable.

Working closely with ISKL’s Board, faculty, students and parents, HOK’s team designed a campus that unifies ISKL’s three divisions: elementary school, middle school and high school, comprising 1,700 students aged 3 -18 years. With a design firmly rooted in Malaysian context and climate, the campus takes its place amongst some of the world’s best international schools.

Dr Norma Hudson, Head of School at ISKL comments, “The campus has been designed from the ground up to support our rich academic program, extracurricular opportunities and professional faculty that are the heart of any world-class education. The design supports and fosters engagement – creating learning spaces that provide flexibility, inspire ideas and allow opportunities for interaction and connectivity. ISKL’s ability to deliver exceptional education is a result of our combined strength in each of these areas and it is exciting to provide this for our 1,700 plus students in the most advanced international learning environment possible”.

A curved connecting spine aligned north-south, links the different teaching blocks and forms a threshold between the school’s secure private world and the city’s outer public realm. “Public elements are at the center of the campus, with the auditorium, recital hall, gallery, studio theatre and elementary school theatre all grouped around a central open plaza,” says Stefan Jakobek, senior architect based in HOK’s London Studio. “This is the real heart of the school – a place where ISKL can come together as one and also reach out to the broader Kuala Lumpur community.”

The building blocks of the schools are the classroom clusters, which are designed around shared principles yet applied to suit the needs of different age groups. Classrooms large enough to accommodate a variety of teaching methods are organized around central common spaces.

“The design borrows from two aspects of traditional Malaysian architecture to improve thermal comfort: screens and shelter,” says Quinton Pop, design professional based in HOK’s London Studio. “Existing mature plantings and a screened facade shield the eastern elevation, with major openings limited to the northern and southern ends. An open undercroft beneath the middle and high schools creates sheltered spaces for socializing and dining. Naturally ventilated, covered walkways lead to the center of each teaching wing.”

Passive solar design strategies drove the form and layout of the building, which is projected to use 60 percent less energy than the average school in similar hot, humid climates. Arranging the teaching blocks in an east-west alignment draws in daylight while protecting classrooms from the intense sun at the beginning and end of the day. Light shelves on the classrooms’ north and south edges drive daylight deep into the space and reduce artificial lighting loads.

As Malaysia’s first school to achieve the World Wildlife Fund’s Eco-Schools Green Flag award, environmental education was already embedded into its curriculum. The team is aiming for ISKL to become the first school to register for, and achieve, Malaysia’s Green Building Index Platinum rating for sustainable design. Visible sub meters that are part of the building management system act as a teaching tool that reveals the school’s real-time resource consumption and encourages students to look for ways to save energy. HOK collaborated with local architectural partner VERITAS Design on ISKL.