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Net-Zero Elementary School

Albina District,Portland OR

Project Type: Group

Designers: Anapaola Araujo Tupayachi, Christina Carval, Donia Hooshmand, Stefany Orozco


The Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School is located in the predominately black Albina district of Portland Oregon. The Albina district lacks accessible, walking distance community services such as, community spaces, adult education classes and food access. The community currently relies on the current Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School for such services but at its current state, it is evident that the current school must be torn down.


Through the redesign, my team and I aimed to preserve and build on these community resources as well as provide a safe and immersive learning environment. We researched sustainable design strategies and studied the Montessori model of learning before designing in order to achieve our net zero goal.


After this, we began our design by studying various classroom shapes and the different daylighting strategies these shapes would have using IESVE, an integrated analysis tool for the design and optimization of buildings. We were able to compare the different daylighting factors and carefully select the appropriate model for a positive learning environment.



After realizing our classroom shape, we then began to organize the building around this classroom model, implementing different design strategies that overall complimented our theme of Montessori and sustainable learning. We ended up with a courtyard building where the central axis acted as a learning and play garden where students could interact with the different plant species all while activating different learning opportunities. The goal through this design was to have this garden act as a safe and enclosed space for the students to learn and grow.

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After carefully analyzing the different weather conditions in the site that may affect the comfort and performance of the design (such as; solar axis, wind conditions, and precipitation patterns) my team organized the program of the building to best suit these conditions. For example, the orientation of the roofs and solar panels, align with what would be best to produce the most solar energy to achieve our net zero goal.

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Above is the overall floor plan of the site as well as a zoomed in portion of the classroom units. The classroom organization, the main driver of the design, was done in a way to create different sections of learning. Within the classroom itself, there are different out-coves which teachers would be able to customize to fit their teaching style. On the outside of the classrooms, a communal space is created in the spaces between each of the classrooms. This is done to facilitate joint teaching opportunities between the different classrooms. Then on the inner courtyard, another out-cove is created where learning and play entwine.

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