Extreme Schools; Sisli High School

High school is one of the most challenging stages of being an adolescent before we are inducted into the world of adulthood.  Students deal with peer pressure, unspeakable drama, self esteem issues, etc.  There is also positive growth like building communication and social skills that peak in college, or exuding extreme potential and accomplishments in extracurricular activities.  With that said, students need a healthy environment that supports all of these facets of this crucial growing period, and much thought should go into the design of these buildings.

One community in Istanbul took it upon themselves to do just that.  In Sisli, one of the largest and busiest districts in Istanbul with an equally large residential area, residents along with Cem Kaptan Architecture set out to create an environment for students that was protected from the outside world for maximum concentration, but also had a connection to the heart of the urban way of living.

The school structure is divided into three main functions.  Teaching, administration and recreation.  The school entrance was kept spacious and one can access all the areas from there.  The administration area is placed on the ground floor for the ease of access.  The teaching rooms are placed on the upper floors to keep the separate and create a less distracting environment.  To protect the general school experience from environmental noise and visual pollution a more solid and protecting facade was chosen also creating a protected courtyard in the middle of the school structure.

As a design principal, instead of using the classic school section of one corridor surrounded by two classrooms, in this design to optimize the sunlight in classes and increase the relationship of the corridors to the courtyard a more linear cone corridor one classroom approach was used.  In keeping with the designations of zones, support functions such as parking and technical rooms were placed underground.  The other functions are placed above ground and to match the slope of the site, the floors were terraced down resulting also in a sloping roof.

The sports hall and conference hall can be accessed from inside the school as well as having an independent entrance that can be used for after school events.  There is an observation bridge and an activity room where non curricular activities can take place.  The sports hall can be opened up at the front and the outdoor playing area can be used during the summer period.  The library is placed at the top level to create a quiet and comfortable research area.  the reading balconies can also be used when the weather permits.  The cafeteria is placed on the first level and opens up to the courtyard.  The school courtyard has a visual connection to the classrooms and is for students to relax and blow off steam in between their busy school schedules.  It is protected from the outside and can be used by students only.