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ADEC Schools Programme
Various, UAE

12 new world-class schools for the Middle East

Following an international design competition, Broadway Malyan was invited by the Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC) to develop a new school prototype as part of an ambitious plan to replace the Emirate’s aging schools.

The firm successfully delivered 12 schools, each using the same design principles yet adapted to site and number and gender of students. The schools cover all student ages, from kindergarten to sixth form, using strong pedagogic principles to generate the scheme design.


The design team began the challenge of developing a model school for both an urban and rural site. Flexibility was key.

Our "Big Idea" centered on a concept which allowed for the simple expansion and ‘plug and play’ strategy that would ensure the design was suitable for a number of conditions and orientations. This design soon developed and offered great potential to integrate sustainable principles within the school design. A central spine was developed which allows for the “plugging in” of new elements. These can be changed depending on location and size. The central communal space was also used to separate boys and girls. Flexibility continues with the interiors, which offer varying formal/informal learning spaces for different class sizes as well as shared spaces used by all age-groups, encouraging student interaction.

Architect sketch of flexible school model suitable for ADEC Schools Programme across UAE.

Inspired by Nature

The site context soon became an important part of the design development and influenced the interior design concept and colours. The locations also inspired the choice of colours for the external feature wall which would become the most evident item of identity for the school. The colour of this wall generated great debate between the design team and ADEC themselves.

The colour palette has been influenced by nuances and materials within the surroundings. A colour study was completed to ascertain the exact colours found in all the various sites. This research informed the colour palette that has been applied where possible to floor, walls and highlight areas within the schools.

Photo of partially covered outdoor space at ADEC school, UAE.

“The design is brilliant and encapsulates 21st century educational research around optimal environments and conditions for learning.”

Ms Sally Rule, Principal, Mubarak Bin Mohammed School

“The design is brilliant and encapsulates 21st century educational research around optimal environments and conditions for learning.”

Ms Sally Rule, Principal, Mubarak Bin Mohammed School


Controlling heat gain while maintaining sufficient levels of daylight was another major concern and a variety of solutions were utilised such as skylights and alignment of buildings to avoid direct exposure to the sun. An example of the dramatic expression of these issues are the large, bright green, vertical louvres that face several elevations in one of our concepts.

A key element in the design was the ‘Eco Courtyard’, a flexible space at the heart of the school partially covered in PV panels which offers natural light to the spaces overlooking the court.

A stand-alone installation in the courtyard known as the ‘Eco-Tree’ is used as an external elevated science lab where students can learn about planting, harvesting and composting encouraging them to explore the practical benefits of growing plants and recycle them.

Green vertical louvres controlling heat gain and daylight to library at Mubarak Bin Mohammed School in Abu Dhabi.

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