SMK St Francis Convent (M), Sabah

A display of dominant white with black clean-cut lines

Educational establishments are inevitably utilitarian, but that’s where the norm ends with the design approach for this new school block.

SMK St Francis Convent (M) is an all-girls secondary school and one of the oldest schools in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. What started as a mission school now needed to be expanded to accommodate the burgeoning student population of 800, which comprise a harmonious mix of races and religions.

And for that, the Diocese of Kota Kinabalu tasked Arkitek PV + Tang to materialise the brief, based on compulsory guidelines from the Ministry of Education and a budget gleaned gradually over the course of 20 years from multiple sources of government assistance and public funding.

The former school block was also plagued by constant termite issues, hence the new building needed to stand the test of time.

The architects felt from the first get-go that the new school needed to adhere to sensible and common-sense methods of energy-saving. Pared-down and simplified, the building is oriented to the north and south to shield the entire block from the glaring sun as much as possible. The classrooms have an open concept and large cross-ventilating windows, while the project is outfitted with LED lighting for lower energy consumption.

The circulation is strategically planned to minimise the travel distance, while concurrently creating a central open atrium that serves as a gathering space, without needing to build a single function room.

The restraint exercised in the design lends to the air of simplicity and meets the practical needs of the school, yet still evoking evident beauty in the meditative quality of repetition.

Utilitarian it might be, but uninteresting it most certainly is not.

Project Name: SMK St Francis Convent (M), Sabah
Location: Jalan Kebajikan, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia
Completion Date: November 2018
Site Area: 10,330 square metres
Gross Floor Area: 1,660 square metres
Building Height: 4 storeys
Number of Classrooms: 22
Client: SMK St Francis Convent (M)
Architecture Firm: Arkitek PV + Tang Sdn Bhd
Principal Architect: Ar Patrick Vun Nyuk Pin
Civil & Structural Engineer: PY Konsep Perunding Sdn Bhd
Mechanical & Electrical Engineer: Power Project Consultant Sdn Bhd
Quantity Surveyor: Jurukos Raihan Sdn Bhd
Landscape Architect: Arkitek PV + Tang Sdn Bhd
Main Contractor: CL Contractor Sdn Bhd
Images: Arthur Lim