Winning by Design

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THS Development Team, December 2020

The Grove campus, designed by renowned global design firm P&T Architects and Engineers, has won worldwide recognition for its groundbreaking and innovative design in a school. So far this year, the architectural firm has won two prestigious architectural awards for its design of the Grove. 

In April, P&T won an award for Public Service Interior at the Asia Pacific Property Awards 2020 and in July, it won the prestigious World Design 2020 award for institutional building interior design. Both awards are for its design work on the Grove.

Interior architectural design plays an important role in many aspects of student learning and design choices have the ability to support an active learning environment. P&T’s spokesperson said the interior design of the Grove was inspired by “The Harbour School’s unique approach to teaching which is different from other international schools in Hong Kong, emphasizing experiential learning by stimulating students’ natural curiosity, imagination and joy in learning.” The design of the Grove was a product of the close collaboration between P&T and THS’s leadership team, and its design expression was based on elements in nature. 

The Grove campus was awarded to THS in 2015 and in 2016, work began with P&T to transform the poorly lit, dull and neglected six-storey school building sandwiched in a Hong Kong public housing estate facing the harbour to become a school designed for 21st century learning for over 300 primary school students. 

Compared to the more established international school campuses on the southside of Hong Kong island, the Grove has a relatively modest footprint and is bound by strict building regulations to keep to the same height and physical size. Often described as a Tardis by awed visitors, the campus is cleverly designed, managing to fit within its compact frame highly functional and inspired spaces. From the slide in the library to the cabinet of curiosities and the treehouse to the mangrove tree touch tank in the marine science centre, the Grove is packed with playful features to make going to school every day an enjoyable experience for its students. 

THS head of school Dr Jadis Blurton said, “Education comes from a Latin word that means "to bring out," and one of THS’s main goals of education is to bring out each person's best self, to help each student find their meaning in the world.  We know that certain skills like math and literacy are important and we excel in those, but they are not enough.  21st Century skills have been identified by world organizations and employers as collaboration, innovation, resilience, creativity, and problem-solving.”  

“The design of The Grove encourages teamwork, creativity, and exploration.  It is also a happy place, so students are encouraged to love learning.  Students today will probably have many careers and even within one career will have many new skills and knowledge that they will have to pursue in order to succeed, so schools need to be teaching them to love exploration and also how to successfully explore and learn new things.  They must be resilient in the face of adversity and be able to problem-solve when solutions are not immediately apparent.  For that, you need more than a textbook.”

Garnering these awards has brought media attention to the Grove’s design features and to its unique approach to learning. The school will be featured in a NOW TV program later this month so stay tuned.

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