The history of school as an autonomous built form can be traced back to the one-room schoolhouse, where a singular classroom acts as the building. Its subsequent evolution entails expansion via replication of classrooms, which in themselves remained stable. In many cases they inch toward seclusion to protect from distractions. In urban contexts they come close to being fortresses: a scarcity of windows that deprive us of a view to the outside but not of its light, four walls that define a world within, a door that connects to the world beyond. This is where students spend so much of their daily lives. Might it wish to become more domestic?

Perhaps we should consider the corridor, the stairwell, and the lobby as the essential parts of a school. However banal, these transitional spaces are the ones our memories tend to latch onto. Fluid and unstructured in use, they serve as the backdrop to our more unexpected but memorable interactions and happenings. At the same time, their formal repetition and rigidity marks where the school feels most institutional.

This school sits between the institutional and the domestic, attempting within its narrow urban lot to balance the notion of seclusion with a strong relationship to the exterior. By regarding the existing perimeter neigbors’ walls as its own, we build introversion while also maintaining a sense of presence and place in the site. Resting on these borrowed walls are concrete shoulders supporting light roof structures which enclose and define the space below. Beneath them float long horizontal slabs, held up by singular walls that carve individualized spaces away from the larger collective, welcoming a blurring between room and corridor.