Educational STEM Centre in Kazakhstan

Our client’s brief was to design a state-of-the-art, ‘one-off’ piece of architecture for an educational STEM Centre in Kazakhstan.

The intention was to produce a building that could provide a space for science-based subjects. The structure of the building was to take inspiration from the science-based learning occurring with it, and as such, a unique ‘DNA shaped’ building was to be created.

An oval, elliptical structure was designed to fulfil the aspirational brief. The double helix spiral, characteristic of DNA was the inspiration of the structure due to its inherently stable geometric form. By utilising this strategy it was possible to form a structural enclosure that not only represented the physical form of DNA but fashioned a completely novel architectural design.

The extreme temperature disparities typical of Kazakhstan minimised the flexibility of working extensively in the ground which substantially restricted the degree of groundworks possible. By limiting foundation works to small localised pads and piles on a pre-determined regularised gird, the timeframe needed for groundworks was significantly reduced. This method of constructing foundations was appropriate for the sustainable pre-fabricated design, with the main structural elements sitting above ground level.

The architects also liaised with engineers to establish a solution for the incorporation of sustainable elements into the proposal despite the site’s complexities. Two large underground water storage facilities and a landscape lake feature (in which hot summer water and cold winter water were effectively sorted and pumped through the building during the contrasting thermal season) facilitated in aiding the shortfalls associated with the harsh weather conditions, rather than allowing them to become an obstruction.

The architects were successful in developing a completely novel design. The contemporary architecture was more than just a recently built structure, it demonstrated a conscious effort to move away from any designs of the past and create something entirely new. This innovation drove architecture to push the boundaries and present their client with a unique, creative, yet functional and practical solution.

Amy Johns

DNA Structure

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