The new campus
More than a new building: six ways the new campus will transform school life for Middle and Upper School students.
1. It starts with students
The new Middle and Upper School Campus has been designed to deliver extraordinary benefits to students and their learning.
So, when it came to ensuring that the architects understood what really mattered to them, they knew they had to go back to school. “We invited the architects to join us,” explains David Wood, Middle School Principal and one of the team steering the creation of ZIS’s new integrated Middle and Upper-School campus. “And not just for lessons – it was important they saw the whole day, from before the kids arrived to after the last activity had ended and they had all gone home. We wanted them to get under the skin of some of the challenges we faced, and to really get a sense of the thinking that we wanted to inform our future.”
When it came to ensuring that the architects understood what really mattered to them, they knew they had to go back to school.
2. One space, multiple use
What the architects, Zurich studio AMZ Architekten learned, informed the creation of innovative spaces that support every aspect of school life – from learning and co-curricular and service activities to student (and teacher) wellbeing and teacher (and student) professional development.
And at the heart of their approach was flexibility, enabling spaces to move seamlessly from lessons to co-curricular activities. And that goes for even the most subject-specific spaces, such as those dedicated to STEM disciplines. Gone are traditional lab benches, with sinks and gas-taps. Instead, the STEM classrooms position their equipment around the outer walls, while the interior space is entirely flexible – tables and chairs can be cleared away entirely, for example, to enable the construction of large projects.
“Already our students often create things and take them outside,” says David Wood, Middle School Principal. “We had a physics lesson recently when the class had to construct protective buffers around eggs to simulate astronauts in a spaceship, which were then taken outdoors and tested by launching projectiles! Lessons can begin inside the classroom and move outside.” Or in to the sky: the building includes an expansive rooftop that is garden, event space, amphitheatre and meeting point all in one.
3. Creativity for arts and sciences
The adjacent new Makerspace will be filled with physical tools, but also house the latest technology: 3D printers, computers with design software and router hubs. But there is no ‘arts’ v ‘sciences’ divide – students will code and design websites in the Makerspace, or build sets for drama productions and create music videos. And like many parts of the new campus, this will be a space shared between Middle and Upper School, enabling students of all ages to learn from one another.
4. Cutting edge facilities for global citizens
The building is a practical expression of the ZIS approach to education; its cutting-edge facilities will keep ZIS’s educational offer world class for years to come. Take one of the most striking new spaces, the Media Center. “It would once have been called a library,” says David Wood, “but libraries today have changed in both function and purpose. Now we will have an IT kiosk for kids to bring their devices for support and help. Much of the collection is online, with databases and referencing sites. We have texts in multiple languages, because at any given time the ZIS community includes up to 50 different nationalities and most of our students don’t have English as their first language."
5. Co-curricular is integral not extra
“Our population can be transient, with some students here for only a year or two,” says David Wood. “When a family arrives, whether from Shanghai, Munich or Auckland, we want to help them feel part of the community, and sport and the arts are often a huge part of that.” Which is why the new campus will also boast greatly expanded sports facilities, including an indoor gym, a full-size pitch and multiple courts usable for everything from tennis to basketball.
“We’ll be able to host a basketball tournament – something the Middle School has never been able to do,” says David Wood. “Hosting on your own campus is exciting and will generate lots of camaraderie and community spirit.” Teachers and parents will benefit, too. “I have so many good conversations with parents on the side of the pitch,” David Wood explains. “Having those facilities here will strengthen relationships with families – and make their lives easier, especially those with several children enrolled who will no longer have to take their children to three different locations.”
The new campus will also offer two large concert spaces that can welcome audiences, smaller ensemble spaces where brass, wind and percussion can practice sectionally, or small groups rehearse, and individual rooms for solo practice or lessons. “We have a thriving music programme,” says David Wood. “The arts – learning to sing, dance, perform jazz or be part of an orchestra, for example – are essential to how our students and wider community connects."
6. Seamless transition
“The new campus will enable a more seamless transition for students from Middle to Upper School,” says David Wood, with students moving into the Upper School already familiar with the building, facilities and students.
“And it will open up a world of opportunities for collaboration between students, teachers, parents and the wider community. That synergy is embodied in this building.”