Branksome Hall Asia is an international boarding school on Jeju Island, South Korea. Designed by Samoo Architects in collaboration, it was opened in 2012.
The campus spans 1.3 million square feet and includes many spaces dedicated to diverse activities. They include academic and residential buildings, A performing arts centre (P.A.C), STEM- a wing dedicated to science and technology, Makerspace, a dining hall, administrative offices, and sports facilities.
Branksome Hall Asia by Samoo Architects or the BHA provides education from junior kindergarten to grade 12 girls. It’s known for its IB (International Baccalaureate) curriculum, an attempt at innovative teaching methodology.
Site Planning | Branksome Hall Asia
The existing topography of Jeju Island highly influences the planning adapted by Samoo Architects and Engineers. Its intensive landscaping and natural features play a ‘heroic’ role in defining the overall master plan.
The orientation of its spaces is mainly focused on three major aspects: Functionality, Sustainability, and the idea of community. BHA reflects Jeju Island’s demography in many ways.
The plan consists of the Academic Building at the centre, becoming the focal point for the entire structure. The rest of the blocks are consciously placed around them, enriching the whole experience for the user accessing the space.
Then comes the breathing zones, the “courtyards” that bring visual relief from the built-up composition. These courtyards are the meeting hub, where maximum student interactions occur, breaking the rigid norm and introducing a seamless character to the design.
Another important program in BHA is the housing units. Samoo Architects and Engineers further placed them at the campus’ perimeter, ensuring maximum security and privacy for its students.
Every aspect that was considered during the design process for BHA inclined highly towards sustainability and the native essence of the site itself. The cultural cognisance of Jeju is rightly reflected in the image of the building that Samoo Architects curated.
Each element that was put together had regional characteristics and a sense of “locale” that anchored the building to its context. Adaptations from Korea’s building typology, such as “olle” (small trails leading to each built form) and “Oreum”(Jeju’s defunct volcano) blended in harmoniously, highlighting the bigger picture of a coherent building-environment relationship.
Thus, the campus is designed to maximise the use of natural resources and minimise energy consumption. The buildings are oriented to capture the natural light and ventilation, which are facilitated by using aluminium louvres installed in the exterior facade.
The campus also includes several sustainable features, such as rainwater harvesting, solar panels, and geothermal heating and cooling systems. These attributes are amalgamated to help reduce energy consumption.
Apart from being environmentally conscious, Samoo Architects and Engineers further dived into creating spaces that weren’t just academically vital but also built an atmosphere around it that gave students the zeal to thrive, one of which is the “Pods”.
Pods are the campus hotspots that cater to the informal interactions between students. They are watered-down versions of rigid routines which give them a glimpse of work-life balance.
And hence a common thread of fluidity of spaces is maintained throughout the design.
The main entrance to the school is through the central lobby. It houses a three-floor high large indoor garden for visitors. The green contributions in the design are also very stark: the terrace gardens and its landscaping with many indigenous plants throughout the campus almost make one look at it as a melded conversation between the built and the inbuilt.
On a microscopic level, every element is carefully placed, and the circulation through these blocks is also created in a way that often has a default effect on the users to utilise the space to the core and, thus, establishing a firm experience at every tangent that draws one in and out of the building.
Intent | Branksome Hall Asia
This building speaks volumes. It’s not just a supreme design-centric example but serves the cause for Girls’ education, pushes boundaries to provide them with an ideal atmosphere that encourages girls to be distinct yet so unified, powerful yet so humble above all, aims at bringing out the best versions of themselves.
Architecture has a way of influencing people, and in this case, Samoo Architects have done it so brilliantly to transform the ideology of life in these young minds not in a theoretical or hypothetical way but through a path that is already instilled in their everyday, through spaces that they are sub-consciously aware off and predominantly in the most “seamless” way.
Hence Branksome Hall Asia became the torchbearer of many awards, like the International School Award(2012), The Korean National Architecture and Construction Award(2012), Superior Award(2013) for not just designing Architecture but also sensitising to it.
ArchDaily. (2013). Branksome Hall Asia Jeju Global Education City / Samoo Architects & Engineers + MKPL Architects. [online] Available at: https://www.archdaily.com/356825/branksome-hall-asia-jeju-global-education-city-samoo-architects-and-engineers [Accessed 11 March.2023].
Branksome Hall Asia Virtual Campus Tour. (2021). [Youtube video]. Available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_4HUsSnLPbA [Accessed 11 March.2023].