The British School, Rio de Janeiro

John McAslan + Partners as Architects

John McAslan + Partners (JMP) has designed a new Senior School

for the British School in Rio de Janeiro (BSR). Located along the

northern boundary of the site, the £10 million building creates

a distinctive gateway for BSR, accommodating a multi-use hall

(the social and sports hub for the new facility), classrooms,

landscaped outdoor class-rooms, science labs, and a sixth form

common room, as well as supporting accommodation.


As BSR is located adjacent to the main 2016 Rio Olympic Games

Barra site, the new building enjoyed a unique inauguration when

completed in July 2016. Partnering with Team GB, UK Sport and

the National Lottery, BSR served as a preparation camp for Team

GB for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and was able to offer an

impressive range of facilities, including a 50m swimming pool, a

3G AstroTurf pitch and the new multi-use sports hall, as well as

providing medical, physio and operational areas. Team GB went

on to win a total of 67 medals, setting an Olympic record (two

more than achieved at the London 2012 Games).


The masterplan for the site, developed by JMP, provides a

new circulatory system clarifying the separation between

vehicles and people, while the landscape strategy unifies the

school’s accommodation, creating a coherent green setting as

a framework for educational and recreational facilities. Sports

facilities, play spaces, social areas and car parking have all been

re-organized to support the increased capacity of the site.


The new three-storey, low-energy building has a footprint of

130m x 20m. One of the key design challenges for JMP was to

incorporate the volume of the triple-height main hall: designed

to Sports England specifications, it has an internal area of 18m x

33m, accommodating a three-court sports facility, with a clear

playing area of 31m, along with a second-floor spectator balcony.


This volumetric element became a key generator of the design:

the large multi-use hall accommodates volleyball, basketball,

badminton and futsal, with a sprung floor for gymnastics

and dance. This space, featuring retractable, tiered bleacher

seating, is also used for large presentations, ceremonies, school

productions and graduation ceremonies.


Flexible teaching spaces reflect the ethos and values of BSR,

whose pedagogical philosophy encourages enquiry-based

learning and the use of learning technologies. Classrooms,

which benefit from external balcony access, are organised in

back-to-back clusters encouraging collaborative and creative

learning, or in a horseshoe fashion to facilitate discussion and

debate.

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