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Cardiff School

Cardiff-by-the-Sea, CA

With its picturesque setting, the Cardiff School yearned for a campus that would better harness ocean views and breezes and maximize outdoor learning space. Located near the iconic San Elijo State Beach, this grade K-2 school included the modernization of two existing buildings and construction of 7 new one-story buildings gently terracing down the hillside. Other improvements included new play areas, outdoor learning courtyards, new parking lot and drop-off, amphitheater, and a lunch shelter.

Using the concept of a breakwater, the perimeter buildings utilize a neutral exterior along the street, punctuated with large dormer windows that bring natural daylight into the classrooms and conceal mechanical units from view. On the interior of campus, buildings are painted in the bright blue hues of the ocean, creating a cheerfulness and energy reflective of the students. Trees taken down in construction were repurposed into log benches and incorporated into the courtyards along with coastal landscaping and boulders for informal outdoor learning.

The new campus plan also sought to improve circulation flow, security and supervision. Care was taken to alleviate neighborhood traffic by elongating the parking and drop-off area, which served to pull queuing cars onto campus and off adjacent residential streets. The multi-purpose room was repositioned to the front of the school, where it has direct access to parking and the joint use open space for events. Strategically located adjacent to the playfields, an ample lunch area is shaded by a dynamic canopy with exposed structure and serves as a central gathering space for students. 

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