The ideal of sustainable design is to create buildings that have an overall beneficial effect on the environment. Most sustainable design rating systems don’t set the bar that high, though. The Cleveland Design Competition invited architects to design a new facility for Campus International School, a public school developed through a partnership between the school district and Cleveland State University. The places where students spend their childhood mold their expectations for how they are going to live and what kind of person they want to be. So we studied what it means to be a living building and integrated that into the architecture. We designed the school as four two-story volumes linked at one end by a circulation spine, with outdoor classrooms/gardens interwoven between the volumes. The first floor is all glass, while the second floor is an opaque mass that overhangs the first, shading spaces on first floor. Also integrated are solar chimneys, naturally drawing air through the building’s interior.
To make the living building work, we found, required using every bit of the site provided for us. Our design calls for producing food on-site in the orchard and in a vegetable garden that students would help tend. Food waste would be recycled and turned into energy via an E-Fuel machine capable of generating enough electricity to power the kitchen and dining hall. Perforated metal on the east and west façade acts as a sunscreen for the classroom bars. The concrete structure provides thermal mass to moderate temperatures, and exposing the concrete walls, columns and floors keeps finishes to a minimum to save material resources. Ground-source heat pumps provide highly efficient heating and cooling, while a photovoltaic array would produce more electricity than the school consumes on an annual basis.
The site includes an existing police station and the Tower Press Building, a historic building that has been converted into lofts. Our design incorporates a rooftop rainwater island that treats stormwater for not only the school but also for those two facilities as well — moving beyond net zero water use into net positive.
Renderings © VDTA