The new energy-efficient building features a 140-seat lecture hall.

Godwin Austen Johnson (GAJ), one of the largest British architectural and design practices based in the UAE, has delivered a major refurbishment of the new administration block of Dubai College.

The next phase of work, which involves the development of a sports hall and drama building, will be the biggest phase to date and is scheduled to begin later this year, says the firm.

The existing D Block, previously the administration building, has undergone an extensive refurbishment to create a modern teaching space with open-plan spaces and think tanks, creating a collaborative learning environment for students and teachers.

“The think tanks and open-plan spaces are a complete shift in traditional teaching methods. We wanted to remove the blackboard approach and provide more collaborative spaces that embrace a more contemporary style of teaching with more technology and more interaction,” says Jason Burnside, partner at GAJ.

Throughout the work, the plan was to keep the existing building but completely remodel it, stripping it back to its shell with insulation being incorporated into the walls and the roof to improve the thermal rating of the building.

The new energy-efficient building now features a 140-seat lecture hall and nine classrooms with a teacher training space as well as informal study pods with writing walls and desks where students can choose to work together or study independently.

“Our work on the college has always been carefully considered in terms of how we go from one plot to the next without impacting too much on the day-to-day activities of the campus and its students,” says Burnside. “Equally important is the sustainability of the campus. When designing the new buildings, it’s not just about the physical teaching spaces but also about how the school will cater to future demands as it grows and develops.”

GAJ is one of the largest and longest-established UK architectural and design practices in the UAE. Throughout its 30-year-old history, the company has created some of the most iconic buildings in the UAE.

An award-winning and multi-disciplinary architecture, interior design, specialist lighting and mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) practice, GAJ has particular expertise in hotel and hospitality, residential and commercial, education, sport and leisure design.

GAJ employs more than 180 staff at its Dubai headquarters and offices in Abu Dhabi and Sharjah in the UAE, Muscat in Oman, and the UK. The GAJ portfolio of work is extensive with a wide range of built and ongoing projects across the Middle East and North Africa.