Vertical schools ready for take off?

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Sayed, Saara
Author ORCID Profiles (clickable)
Master of Architecture (Professional)
Unitec Institute of Technology
Byrd, Hugh
Francis, Kerry
Masters Thesis
Ngā Upoko Tukutuku (Māori subject headings)
Avondale (Auckland, N.Z.)
Auckland (N.Z.)
school architecture
school building design
metro schools
vertical schools
super blocks
urban intensification
New Zealand
ANZSRC Field of Research Code (2020)
Sayed, S. (2019). Vertical schools ready for take off? (Unpublished document submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Architecture (Professional)). Unitec Institute of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand. Retrieved from
RESEARCH QUESTION: As Auckland city gets dense, are vertical schools a more viable option? ABSTRACT: This research project concerns the investigation into and design of a ‘vertical school’ in Auckland. As a relatively new building typology, there is no universally agreed definition of ‘vertical’. However, it is generally taken as a complete school building which is several floors and located in a compacted urban area. Vertical schools are relatively new in Europe, the US and Australia though they have been in existence in Southeast Asian cities for longer. There are no vertical schools in New Zealand. Therefore, the research is exploratory. This research raises the question, whether vertical schools could be a building typology for New Zealand’s cities where there are policies for greater compaction resulting in more children of schooling age in urban areas. Precedents from other countries are reviewed and common themes established to inform the design of a vertical school in Auckland. The site selected has been identified as an area in Auckland where there is a policy for intensification in the future. It is a compact site that will require approximately seven floors to accommodate one thousand students. Apart from literature, the research has included an interview with the Ministry of Education, physical models to establish basic forms of atria, mathematical analysis to identify issues with daylighting, ventilation, cost comparison and site usage. The conclusion compares the main differences between a traditional New Zealand School, of typically one to two floors, with the design proposal of a school with seven floors. The schools are not only different in terms of spatial use and height but also introduce differences in schooling culture. There are advantages and disadvantages to each type of school but, from my experience with the design process, it has become clear that a vertical school requires considerably more design ingenuity to overcome issues of circulation, noise, maintenance, flexibility, extendibility and the integration of large spaces such as halls and gymnasiums.
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