The Sezin School Transformation Project by ATÖLYE is a story of transforming an educational institution via incremental spatial interventions over multiple years. ATÖLYE initiated this transformation in 2015-16 with the Open Roof Space Project, a flexible pedagogical space with a hybrid program that fostered meeting, making, learning, and working—built within a formerly dormant rooftop area, the space covered approximately 1,700 m² within 15,000 m². Working on a strategic level with the School Board, ATÖLYE recommended new programmatic elements based on global future-of-learning trends, such as comfortable parent-teacher meeting areas, a digital-first library, a multipurpose event space, a maker space, and a teachers’ coworking area.
The transformation of the school continued in 2017-18 with the redesign of the elementary school areas to accommodate the needs of first and second grades. Empathizing with the needs of young talents and their onboarding journey, ATÖLYE built spaces based around a mental model that flips a knowledge-centered experience towards a learner-centered one.
The design team developed a loft-within-the-classroom approach, the first of its kind in Turkey and possibly beyond, with soft cushion seating to allow alternative postures to exist within the classroom, be it reading, peer-to-peer learning, resting, or an intimate conversation. To emphasize the emergent nature of a learner-centered pedagogy, teachers’ desks were sized at the same dimensions as the student, thus implying a new dynamic that equalizes the power relationship within the classroom.
ATÖLYE developed a foundational architectural strategy that considered the 50 m² classroom as an assemblage of multiple functional surfaces, dedicated to teaching, presenting, exhibiting, reading, and collaboration. This way, a rather small footprint became a vast canvas for exploration. For this project, ATÖLYE’s venture, CNVS, launched a new classroom furniture line, where the carefully angled trapezoidal student desk remained at the heart of the design approach.