In the Indonesian city of Tangerang, Jakarta-based design studio RAW Architecture has completed the School of Alfa Omega, a new school that emphasizes a connection with the outdoors. Set on a former rice paddy, the project has been a challenging endeavor — not only was the first phase expected to be ready for occupancy just six months from the design commission, but the muddy site conditions and the tight budget of less than $1.2 million also posed concerns. By combining low-cost materials and design inspiration from the local vernacular with easy-to-follow modular designs, the architects were able to successfully complete the first phase in just four months and within budget.

brick building with thatched roof

The School of Alfa Omega caters to 300 students ranging from preschool to high school and is divided into three levels of preschool, six levels of elementary school, three levels of junior high school and three levels of senior high school. For ease of construction, the architects designed modular classrooms of equal size that are arranged in clusters.

Related: Cooling breezes blow straight through a low-energy brick house in Indonesia

cluster of brick buildings with thatched roofs
walkways connecting various brick buildings

“The brief of the project was to design a school with a value where ‘every child is [considered] a genius’; to be functioned in a curriculum system that does not rely solely on academic scores,” the architects explained. “The school aims to explore all of the students’ potency — even of those laid outside the ‘formal education realms’ such as craftsmanship, applied art, ecological awareness, social sensibility, etc., hence it is also required the establishment of growing talent classes.”

person walking on long walkway with sunset on horizon
children walking through covered walkway

To mitigate the swampy conditions and risk of flooding, the architects elevated the steel-framed school on stilts. In addition to the use of steel and concrete for durability and strength, the architects turned to locally sourced materials to bring down costs and relate the building to its surroundings. Wavy walls of locally sourced red brick — found to be more sturdy than the linear form — add visual interest. A thatched roof of local bamboo with long overhangs help shade outdoor spaces.

walkway leading over marsh area to brick school
school in front of marsh area

Tall ceilings, porous brick walls, balconies and large openings were also integrated into the design to promote natural ventilation and optimize natural lighting in the school. According to the architects, the materials and design help the building remain at a stable interior temperature of 27 degrees Celsius year-round.

+ RAW Architecture

Photography by Eric Dinardi via RAW Architecture