A delightful castle-style building with a courtyard adventure land designed to stimulate every child’s imagination and desire to learn, the Brook House Preparatory school is an invigorating work of art for the modern day school children. The prep school which was completed in 2005 sits in 5,700 sqm of built area separated by a shared playing field from the High School. The school complex which accommodates a Nursery School, the Preparatory Wing and High School is located next to the Nairobi National Park on Magadi road off Lang’ata road in Nairobi.
Inspired by the gothic style architecture of the then upcoming All Saints trinity center, the founding Brookhouse school proprietor, Mr. Privish Mehta commissioned Dimensions Architects and Interior Designers the design and supervision of the Prep wing. “The client was very specific on the style he wanted in the design of this school,” explains Architect Chema Katua, the lead consultant of this project. “He made it clear that he wanted an academic facility with gothic features. A dramatic, playful and fun complex that would fascinate children and inspire them to look forward to going to school every day.” Architect Chema adds.
At the time, the infamous Harry Potter movies had captured the attention of kids everywhere. Factoring in this trend, the architect hand in hand with the client developed the layout and style of the school.
Borrowing from the ancient European royal castles, the brief required several unconventional features for the school. From the slender vertical piers, pointed arches and vaulting to the elongated roof pitches, the design is largely adopted from the European gothic architecture.
Conforming to the ancient castle design, an imposing entrance of two storey height main door with a draw bridge mock and a large water feature marks the grand entry into the school opening up into a richly landscaped courtyard incorporating play areas for children, flexible seating spaces, a small man-made tropical forest with giraffe statues, caves, and water features reflecting various ecosystems of Kenya to stimulate young minds.
The classrooms are oriented around the landscaped quad. The grand door leading into the castle is made of rustic dark hard wood adorned with rustic metal plates and elongated chains which are strong features of the gothic style of architecture. The grand entry way also features rustic timber flooring.
The award winning design complex consists of a series of classrooms for different activities including theory, music and arts, administration offices, ablution facilities for young kids, a high spec auditorium that can sit around 600 pax, changing rooms, a computer lab and a library.
Being a high tech set up, all the facilities provided in the school are very modern and up-to-date with the latest features required by the standards of an international school.
Flexible spaces that make use of natural lighting and ventilation have been provided in different areas. The mini outdoor amphitheater is built of resilient materials that allow the space to be easily maintained and used for various functions during any season and time of the day. An early learning library space designed to bring an outdoor experience in an indoor space is also created to serve as an art library with a story telling setting. The high pitch roofing provide attic spaces which have been designed to economically serve as intimate learning spaces with interesting roof profiles.
Based on stories from children books, the library and the computer lab interiors create a fantasy world borrowing themes from European story books for children. For instance, in the library the design is centered on the Jack & Bean story with a thick tree created at the center going up three floors.
The computer lab is designed like a spaceship with sensor doors opening as in the Star trek story into a translucent floor feature of the globe.
The reading area mimics the Lord of the Rings orbit houses with little caves and fascinating graphics walls and skyfets inspired by Alice in the Wonderland story. The intention was to bring the characters in the books to life.
Behind the mechanical features in the auditorium including audio visual, acoustics and lighting fixtures are fun aesthetics developed from different African themes with a modern flare. At the entry, a huge mural of the wild beast migration has been mounted as the welcoming address. Painted canvas padding has been done on the walls with Maasai themes on the lights. The roof light fixtures have been developed around a concept borrowed from the elephant tusks with a very dramatic ceiling conforming to a sky.
Use of locally available materials durable in all-weather with little impact to the environment was intentional. The affordable coated iron sheets used in the roof are light weight and long lasting hence requiring little to no maintenance. The exterior of the entire building is cladded with a combination of blue and yellow stone tiles with alternating plastered and painted bays to break the monotony of the stonework as well as to create some warmth and colour.
The project costs approximately Kshs. 350M.
Client – The Brookhouse Schools
Architect – Dimensions Architects + Interior Designers
Main Contractor – Twiga Construction Ltd
Quantity Surveyor – Quantimax Consultants
Civil & Structural Engineers – Armitech Consulting Engineers
Mechanical & Electrical Engineers – Gedox Consulting Engineers