the ‘desa mahkota’ is a national secondary school positioned on an an elevated urban site in malaysia’s capital city, kuala lumpur. seeking to improve the standard typology typically found in the area, local firm eleena jamil architect created a continuous series of common or public spaces to help foster open communication and interaction between students and teachers. the buildings are planned in linear strips and arranged in shifting panels to accommodate for up to 1200 students and 60 teaching staff. the 13,000 m² of built-up area consists of a multi-purpose hall, classrooms, science and IT laboratories, library canteen and administration rooms. an architectural promenade behaves as a main artery – attached to the academic rooms, green courtyards, corridors, informal play areas and also the canteen. this interconnected layout offers a a variety of places for the children to play and socialize as well as providing the option for informal teaching to occur.

(left) large overhangs protect corridors and staircases
(right) corridors on the north façades also help with shading



the tight plot of land meant that the school needed to be built as a high-rise structure in order to meet the necessary space requirements. the teaching blocks are ordered in ascending heights with the lowest along the front and the tallest towards the end – a strategy that ensures a sense of human scale upon approach. the linear volumes are organized in a serrated manner, creating courtyards that are varying character and are further distinguished by the different colors assigned to the façades. these outdoor areas play a major role in keeping spaces cool during the day, offering a sense of respite, while their softened geometry makes them feel less institutional.

each linear block has sun shading fins on their south façades



the classrooms, labs and offices are aligned along open corridors on one side and fully glazed on the other, meaning that their interiors are naturally ventilated and bathed in daylight. in the tropics, east and western façades are generally more problematic in terms of shading due to the direct exposure to morning and afternoon sun. this school avoids the problem by having all windows and door openings face north and south. ceilings and floors are deliberately left bare, exposing their structural concrete surfaces, so that their thermal mass can help regulate daytime temperatures. heat is absorbed by the concrete slabs during the day and released at night through natural ventilation when the classrooms are not in use.

(left) blocks are separated by green courtyards of different scales 
(right) fins and overhangs cuts out the sun from classrooms

eleena jamil architect redefines school typology in malaysia
all classrooms face onto green courtyards

eleena jamil architect redefines school typology in malaysia
grounds around the school are kept as permeable and green as possible

eleena jamil architect redefines school typology in malaysia
open corridors and walkways connect spaces to the outdoors

the multipurpose hall with badminton courts

eleena jamil architect redefines school typology in malaysia
classrooms and laboratories are bright and naturally ventilated


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