babel schools
babel, iraq

Situated on a 5580 m² lot, Babel Schools creates an ideal educational platform that is physically at the heart of a planned residential development, while also being one of its primary catalysts. By the simplicity, boldness, and modularity of its design, it embodies a new typology, an architectural prototype that can be easily adapted to other Iraqi contexts.
While being entirely introverted, the project creates its own rich vistas, giving views onto a lush central green heart.  This sheltered garden is the visual focal point from every space in the project.  It provides ample recreational and shaded areas for the students to enjoy at different times of the day. Furthermore, the concept of the central courtyard is often used as a passive cooling strategy in countries with hot climates.
The traditional brick of the region, which has an approximate width to height ratio of 2:1, is the driving conceptual force behind the project.  The structural grid bases itself from the classroom dimension of 8x8 m2, which when arranged in pairs, creates a similar proportion to the brick module. The modest structural composition further addresses the low budget requested for the project.
The massing of the 4 story building is enriched with a playful juxtaposition of paired classroom modules shifting and staggering one on top of each other in a way that introduces well lit green interstitial spaces, as well as cross ventilated corridors giving way to the project’s green core.
The main access corridor’s outer wall is used to insulate the project while providing a clearly defined locker area for the students.  This area creates a buffer zone between the required programmatic functions that are found on the inner side of the building.  The strategies listed above assist with naturally maintaining the overall thermal comfort of the entire project. 
Common spaces, administration, and kindergarten classrooms are situated on the ground floor; a library, science labs, and multiple classrooms accommodating students in elementary school all the way to high school are distributed on the 2nd and 3rd floors; and walled, open-to-sky lush green playgrounds and protected technical areas are dispersed across on the roof.
The project is envisioned in board-form concrete as a final material for both the exterior and interior facades.  In order to ensure minimal thermal gain, a clear low-e double glazing system will be used throughout the project, with reclaimed wood sliding louvers, varying in direction based on their orientation, to serve as an additional layer of texture and solar protection.


architecture: nabil gholam architects
3D images: nabil gholam architects