WSA Hard Hat Tour: Arcadia, Where Small Is Beautiful

WSA Hard Hat Tour: Arcadia, Where Small Is Beautiful
By C Hoppe
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Good things really do come in small packages; just take the new Arcadia Preparatory School for example.

Built on an irregular plot of only 70,000 square foot, with roads on each of its five sides, we imagine GAJ Architects used every ounce of their experience, ingenuity, vision to truly make the plot work.

And work it does. The ingenious design and the team behind it has already been recognised by the 2015 Middle East Architects Awards.

While the plot might be small, the build has a staggering 155,000 square foot total built-up area, allowing for 16 square metres per person, the same, if not larger than many premium schools in the region.

And the premium features don’t stop there; Arcadia school also boasts large spacious classrooms, sports facilities, a pool and more.

When visited, the basement was almost complete. While this might not sound particularly significant- it is! The innovative design will see all the usual rooftop paraphernalia (AC equipment, ducts and storage) all contained beneath the school.

This will leave the roof free to house play equipment; a 20x6 metre heated and chilled swimming pool plus sports facilities and ball courts. While inside the building, the sports hall will transform with the help of retractable seating into a 300 seater auditorium.

During our visit, we observed that structural work on first floor was fully finished and work was progressing on the floors above. Once completed, the ground floor will house classrooms for foundation and years one and two, plus the reception, doctor’s office, and prayer rooms.

Given the space limitations at the site, aspects of the construction such as metal working have been  taking shape at the empty Arcadia secondary school site over the road.

Designed as a community school with access ‘for’ and ‘to’ the JVT community, the school will however, have three access points each operating smart ID systems for security purposes. The community feels extends to inside the school too, with glass doors for all Foundation Stage and Years one and two ground floor classrooms opening onto two central atriums complete with age appropriate play equipment.

Work is also taking place offsite, with joinery, interiors and more being built both in Dubai and abroad. Furniture for the school is enroute from the UK and the play equipment is on hold while management upgrades the order to comply with the most recent changes in the UK curriculum.

The manpower on site is impressive with 450 builders working to get the structure completed by the 15th of March (we’re sure the school’s immediate JVT neighbours, will be breathing a sigh of relief at this news!)

The target date for total project completion is the 31st May and it is hoped viewing by perspective parents and students will begin in the last few weeks of June.

At full capacity the primary school will house 800 students, however, this September the school will only open for FS1 to Year 4, with 4 form entry and 25 children per class, with a maximum of 600 pupils in total for this phase of the launch.

The site for Arcadia house (the school's 5 star-like serviced teachers’ apartments) is located only 3-4 minutes’ drive away from the school, while Arcadia’s catchment area covers  JVT, Emirates Hills, JVC, Springs and Victory Heights- all within a 15 minute drive from the build.

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