The Grove School
Two elements of contemporary Afghan culture have been especially formative in the design of the Janet Ketcham Girls School. Notions of privacy embodied in traditional Afghan Qalas served as a point of departure for the site plan of the school, while the addition of a poplar grove to the school grounds addresses deforestation and the lack of green spaces that characterizes Afghanistan, and Mazar-i Sharif in particular. Four bars of classrooms, oriented to receive the southern sun, create a sequence of programmed outdoor spaces on the site, and also provide multiple views to the poplar grove. The use of poplars is also continued in the building, as a structural element in the classrooms. In this way, a traditional material becomes an important element in the school building, and the surrounding landscape. A north/south orientation is important for controlling light and solar gain, with the use of large overhangs to block the summer sun while allowing it into the classrooms in winter. Placement of windows to light the chalkboard, while providing comfortable daylighting has also been a focus of our design work. An insulated and sloped roof resolves issues of snow, and retains heat when needed. The hope is to create a delightful space that the girls can be comfortably educated in while establishing a sense of permanence and ownership. This project was completed in partnership with Sarah Eddy.