(CMR) According to a press release from Jestico + Whiles, A UK-based architecture firm, they have been awarded the contract to design the new John Gray High School facility. This comes despite the fact that the Cayman Islands Government has not issued any statement on the matter.
Jestico + Whiles has been appointed to design a new school building for the Cayman Islands Government. The project won in an international competition, is the practice’s fourth large secondary school overseas project. The practice assembled a multi-national team from the UK, Canada, US, and the Cayman Islands to compete for the project.
Located in the capital, George Town, on Grand Cayman, the John Gray High School project was initially conceived over a decade ago to designs by US firm Fielding Nair. Work was halted in 2012 in the wake of the financial crisis and amidst concerns around the educational model on which the original design was based.
The new competition was held to appoint architects to work with the government to devise a way of utilizing the existing part-completed buildings and combined with new buildings transform them into a contemporary high school aligned to current and future education thinking. Having a single interconnected building was the fundamental requirement of the brief.
The innovative scheme will create a centre for excellence for its 1,000 students and 120 staff. Jestico + Whiles carried out extensive consultation with the school community, government and education authorities to ensure the new design meets educational needs.
The project will complete three partially constructed buildings and then construct a new central wing-form building which connects them together around a central heart to form a single whole. One wing is dedicated to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths); a second to Arts, both Performing and Applied; and a third to Humanities and Languages.
Whilst the brief called for a relatively traditional departmental organisation for the school, each wing features a central gathering stair and break-out space for informal learning and social activities. These spaces, combined with a number of seminar and small group spaces throughout the new building, will enable the school to deliver teaching and learning flexibly in the future.
Where the wings come together, at the heart of the new building, is a large central gathering space which contains the communal elements of the school: dining, library, student resource and social spaces.
Sustainable thinking has informed the design development from the outset. A solar control façade, which will maximise daylight whilst eliminating solar gain and glare, rainwater collection and on-site solar generation have all formed an integral part of the design concept. The landscape design uses indigenous planting and largely eliminates the need for irrigation.
The building is also being designed as a hurricane shelter and emergency refuge, a vital facility on low-lying Caribbean islands.