Taft Elementary School Annex
A school that breathes - a design for a nature conscious, sustainable practice school in the Cincinnati area.

The goal of this project is to create an architectural experience that forces the children and the community to engage with nature; the building exposes the elements of nature both while on the inside, as well as you progress through the site landscape. The interior of the building acts as a frame for the landscape elements, and the exterior landscaping frames the building. The sequence of progression on the site sets up a narrative of how the building fits naturally into the entire scheme and respects the natural elements of the site. This interconnectivity forces the users to think about the impacts our actions as a society have on our environment.

The structure for the active solar strategies, being the photovoltaic panels and the evacuated tube solar thermal panels, is literally separated from the building so that it acts as a frame for the building, while simultaneously providing a cheaply and easily changed support system for rapidly changing technologies. The lack of structural connection between the building and structure for the solar technologies provides not only the practical function of easily expanding or changing the structure and relevant technologies; but it also provides the architectonic symbolism of not limiting the building to the current day’s technologies and procedures.
Simple diagrams showing the basic logic behind the placement and organization of the programmatic elements and structure.
Top Left Caption: Why separate Bearing Wall Structure (dark blue) from Column Structure (red)?

Bottom Left Caption: Bearing Walls (dark blue)support Floors, Roofs (green) and Infill Walls (light blue)...

Top Right Caption: ...which frees Column Structure (red) to do what it wants; to support and frame PV panels (yellow), Solar Thermal Panels (orange) and Movable Insulated Window Shades (light purple).

This also allows for easy removal of related technologies to make room for newer and more efficient technologies as they become available. It also allows for the possibility of expansion of the steel structure, while simultaneously elevating the Photovoltaic panels above the winter shadow of the tall building on the site to the south. The raised PV panels also provide shade for the roof garden, and a more pleasant environment for people in the harsh sun.

Diagram showing location and quantity of solar based energy collection systems (Photovoltaic Panels, Evacuated Solar Thermal Tube Panels, Operable Insulating Shutters, and water reservoir for solar thermal heating system.)
The full layout as presented at DAAPworks 2011.