The NCA: A World-Standard Education Facility for Impoverished Children

The Neeson Cripps Academy

Cambodian Children’s Fund and Velcro Companies have revealed plans for a landmark education facility in the heart of Phnom Penh’s former garbage dump community.  The Neeson-Cripps Academy (NCA) will provide impoverished Cambodian children with high quality education opportunities through enhanced learning spaces, access to the latest digital technologies, teacher training, a focus on STEM education (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and designated study spaces all within an environment conducive to critical thinking and gaining an understanding of the world.

The construction of the Neeson Cripps Academy is a gift from Velcro Companies. Velcro Companies is a technology-driven organization that provides solutions for businesses and consumers around the world, and is committed to advancing education and improving the lives of children across the globe. The building is named after Robert Cripps, former Velcro Companies Chairman, and Scott Neeson, Founder and Executive Director of Cambodian Children’s Fund.

“This landmark building will provide a progressive and targeted education program, at a level normally limited to private schools. The NCA will fill the need for safe learning spaces, teacher development and digital technologies, and provide a hub for the local community. Those in higher education will find a smoother path to earning a degree in the sciences, engineering or technology and into a high-demand employment environment” said Neeson. “I am grateful to Velcro Companies for their unwavering support and to the personal support and shared vision of Robert Cripps.”

“We feel privileged to continue our work with the Cambodian Children’s Fund (CCF) and establish the Neeson Cripps Academy to educate children who otherwise wouldn’t have access to world-class teachers and resources,” said Fraser Cameron, President and CEO, Velcro Companies. “Through this partnership, we’re also inspiring the next generation of innovators and honoring our long-time former Chairman, Robert Cripps, and his commitment to leadership.”

The landmark building has been designed pro-bono by acclaimed New York firm CookFox Architects.The ecologically integrated design and sustainable strategies will help create a healthy environment for learning and limit the school’s water and energy usage. The building will feature low energy lighting, natural ventilation, open-air learning spaces, and integrated bamboo and terracotta solar shading.

The rooftop features a garden that will minimize solar heat gain, reduce stormwater runoff, and provide educational opportunities, and a covered, multi-purpose athletic court to facilitate outdoor activities in all conditions. Using biophilic design principles, the school will incorporate natural and biomimetic materials. Exposed concrete will be patterned with a design inspired by traditional Khmer textiles, imprinting the school of the future with a connection to the rich cultural history of Cambodia.

Existing site of the NCA

ABOVE: The existing site of the Neeson Cripps Academy.

“Our studio believes deeply in the concept of global citizenship. We are thrilled to design a state of the art educational environment  to support CCF, Velcro Companies, and Marshall Wace’s passion in training the next generation of leaders.” said architect Rick Cook.

“The children and youth in the largely impoverished Steung Meanchey communities have hungered for an opportunity to study. To meet that hunger with a quality education and the prospect of a university degree, we will give children the tools they need to lead their family and community to a better life”, said Neeson.

“The NCA will introduce a new level of science and technology education in Cambodia.  All high school students enrolled in CCF’s education program will use the facility, and it will serve as a teacher-education centre and hub for the local community.”

NCA Courtyard

ABOVE: The courtyard of the NCA.

European hedge fund managers Marshall Wace have contributed to the fitout of the building, which will include international standard science laboratories.

“The enormous opportunities this pioneering facility will soon provide to thousands of students and teachers is simply unparalleled in Cambodia and testament to the vision of Scott Neeson and his team.” said Chris Pearce, C.O.O at Marshall Wace Asia. “We look forward to the NCA becoming a commanding flagship for all the excellent work being done to educate local children by CCF, as well becoming the first centre of excellence to develop the local teaching community.”

The key objectives of the NCA are to provide:

  • International standard science laboratories
  • Support e-Learning throughout the facility
  • Open and flexible study areas
  • Building layout focused on collaboration
  • Large, flexible areas for community use – including community education programs
  • A teacher training hub, to be used by both CCF and public school teachers
  • Virtual international exchanges

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ABOUT THE BUILDING

The ecologically integrated school will provide Cambodia’s most impoverished children with a high-quality education that includes a robust English language program, STEM subjects, and access to the latest digital technologies and global connectivity through e-Learning.

The building’s sustainable strategies will help create a healthy environment for learning and limit the school’s water and energy usage. Operating costs will be reduced by low energy lighting, low flow fixtures, abundant natural light and integrated solar shading. Programmatically, the building is conceived in two parts. A long, east-west oriented wing takes advantage of the local climate conditions with natural ventilation, open-air learning spaces, and a shading screen of bamboo on the southern facade. The north-south wing contains the school’s science and technology spaces, which are conditioned by highly efficient mechanical systems and shaded by deep terracotta horizontal and vertical fins.

A significant portion of the five-story building is dedicated to flexible gathering spaces designed to encourage long-term social networks and collaborative learning, and to provide meeting areas for the wider community. The ground level is open to provide a covered gathering space with a visual connection to the large courtyard garden, and to minimize the school’s vulnerability to flooding. The rooftop features plantings that will minimize solar heat gain, reduce stormwater runoff, and provide educational opportunities in the curriculum, and a covered, multi-purpose athletic court to facilitate outdoor activities in all conditions.

Using biophilic design principles, the school will incorporate natural and biomimetic materials. Exposed concrete will be patterned with a design inspired by traditional Khmer textiles, imprinting the school of the future with a connection to the rich cultural history of Cambodia.

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CAMBODIAN CHILDREN’S FUND

Cambodian Children’s Fund transforms the country’s most impoverished kids into tomorrow’s leaders, by delivering education, family support and community development programs into the heart of Cambodia’s most impoverished communities.  Today, there are more than 2,300 students enrolled in CCF’s Education Program.

CCF believes that with the right education and support, one child has the potential to lift an entire family out of poverty and that a generation of educated children has the power to change a whole society. Through intensive, long-term investments in children, CCF is helping students build the skills, confidence and integrity they need to become the progressive spokespeople and leaders of change in their community.

Through 6 core program areas – Education, Leadership, Community Outreach, Healthcare, Childcare and Vocational Training – CCF take a holistic, on-the-ground approach to developing integrated yet simple solutions to the complex issues of poverty.

 

ABOUT VELCRO COMPANIES:

Velcro Companies is a technology-driven, global organization providing fastening solutions that solve problems in simple, elegant and surprising ways for businesses and consumers around the world. With more than 50 years of experience, Velcro Companies is proud of its heritage in innovation. They own over 400 active patents and numerous trademarks, including the VELCRO® trademark which is registered throughout the world.  It offers global resources for world-class solutions, with manufacturing locations in Spain, the United States, Canada, Mexico, and China and sales offices around the world.  Visit Velcro.com to buy our products and find out more, and “Like” VELCRO® Brand on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/velcrobrand for more information.

Velcro Companies N.V. Chairman is Ms. Amy Tennent, and its Deputy Chairman is Mr. Thomas Cripps. Both are closely involved in the Cripps Foundation, a well-established charity whose objectives include the furthering of education at all levels and across the globe.

 

ABOUT COOKFOX ARCHITECTS

COOKFOX Architects is an an architectural studio dedicated to a vision of integrated, environmentally responsive design. We believe good design is sustainable and we are committed to being wise stewards of our shared natural and cultural resources. Guided by our passion for excellence, belief in the collaborative process, and persistent curiosity, COOKFOX pursues projects that allow us to fundamentally re-think how people interact with buildings and the natural environment.

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