Dubai, UAE




The English College

Design Firm


Principal Architect



14,000 m² (BUA)

The design concept has been developed around respecting the heritage of the existing English College design and massing and focusses on creating a diverse new specialist academic block adjacent the existing academic block as well as a new landmark fitness and wellness block anchoring the South-east end of the site. The form and architectural treatment of the new academic wing and sports complex ensures that the buildings change hour by hour as the sun moves round and shadows constantly change.

The English College

The tight urban site and requirement for the retention of the existing academic block means that the new adjacent specialist academic wing will be split over 4 floors to achieve the required level of accommodation. This has been simply organized with a “common” space on each level: dining hall at the ground floor, drama studio theatre at the first floor and library on the second floor. The balance of the specialist spaces are organized as follows: ground floor – science & design technology; first floor – arts, drama & music; second floor – sixth form.

A central spine has been used as an organizing principle on each floor in the new specialist academic wing which picks up on the wide corridors of the existing school (used for socialization) and provides abundant opportunity for shared learning and social spaces.

The façade to the academy has been developed to give a sense of both British Civic architecture whilst still ensuring there are playful elements which evoke the feeling of a school, primarily accomplished through the use of colour. A repeating series of vertical fins define the levels and enable environmental sensitivity by providing shading and reducing direct solar gain. The treatment behind the fins varies dependent on the use of the spaces behind but has been designed to ensure all teaching spaces receive high degrees on natural light together with opening windows.

Connections between inside and outside spaces are relatively seamless despite the level changes between grade and the ground floor and extensive areas of deep cover are provided at ground floor to ensure outdoor activity can be maintained year-round.