AJMAN // Going to school will finally be fun - at least that is the promise from the architects of the new Ajman Academy.
Brightly coloured classrooms, indoor and outdoor play areas, sporting facilities, a food laboratory, a music and drama room, an art studio and wi-fi connection throughout the campus are just some of what the academy will offer.
The 60,000-square-metre school, which will follow the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum, is set to open its doors in September.
"From transparent spaces to the use of technology, the school is being designed to make education an enjoyable experience," says Mohammed Sherzad, director of facilities and services office at the Ajman University of Science and Technology. He is also the director at Uniconsult, the university's architectural engineering consulting office, which designed the school with Penoyre & Prasad, a London-based architecture firm. It is being constructed under the supervision of Al Gurg Consultants.
Hundreds of uniformed labourers work in the summer heat to create a school that hopes to meet the demand of Emirati and Arab parents who are keen on an international experience for their children. Ajman Academy's sprawling campus, which is expected to cost about Dh55 million, has been funded by the emirate's ruling family.
It will enrol 250 pupils for its Primary Years Programme this year. It has applied for IB candidacy for now and will apply for accreditation in two years. Initially, it will admit students from kindergarten to gradefive. The first phase is nearly complete despite work starting as late as October. This is because the building is constructed with prefabricated panels, which were cast off-site.
The classroom walls are being painted in hues of green, orange and red.
"Every grade has its own colour scheme," said Mr Sherzad. Each classroom will also have its own toilet.
The art studio and the language and food labs have been planned to enable the "holistic development" of children. The food lab will teach older children to cook healthy food, said the architect.
Daily, healthy meals will also be cooked on campus and served in the 250-seat dining room. This, he said, was to train them early on the importance of eatingproperly.
Group rooms, where pupils will get together for discussions, are aimed at developing leadership skills in them.
"The child will feel a sense of belonging to the place and will feel like coming back every day," Mr Sherzad said.
Outdoor study areas, which will be decorated with plants, have been built for the younger grades so learning can take place outside during the winter months. Instead of the boring, conventional seating found in most schools, pupils will have interactive desks that can project lessons and study materials.
"This way, they can sit together and discuss," he said. Lessons can be projected on the wall or the desks.
Apart from smart designs and cutting-edge technology, the school's planners have put safety at its centre.
"We are using rubber surfaces in the indoor and outdoor areas so children don't get hurt when they fall," he said. The architects have not used too many steps and say they have focussed on smooth and levelled surfaces for child safety.
The architects have also created open spaces with at least six skylights that brighten the common areas naturally and have installed energy-saving cooling systems.
"The [ Variable Refrigerant Volume] cooling system saves 30 to 40 per cent of energy. It is environmentally friendly. The insulated, precast, sandwich panels inside walls will reduce radiation," said Mr Sherzad.
Solar panels will be used to heat water and conserve energy. .
Work will begin on the second phase in March 2013 to accommodate higher grades. It will take another year to complete.