Artemis Education are hard at work at not one, but two new school projects. In Qatar, Artemis will open Northview School and in Lisbon, Portugal a historic pasta factory (yes, you read that right – a pasta factory!) is being converted into The Lisboan school. For both projects Artemis have chosen to partner with Kidzink Design for their design and FF&E needs. We asked The Lisboan’s Founding Principal, Martin Harris to give us the lowdown on what one prospective Lisboan teacher described as the “world’s most exciting education project”!
The Lisboan’s older features look beautiful against Kidzink’s designs
Martin, whenever we talk to your team, there is an incredible sense of excitement about this school. Why is that?
For the past five years, education has been getting closer and closer to a real crossroads. Around the world, many, many educators have realised that just preparing children to take as many exams as possible isn’t really the way to go any more. You see this thinking reflected in the fact that a lot of the world’s universities are now introducing their own entrance criteria to assess skills and personal characteristics, alongside academic attainment.
With that shift in mind, I’ve been given this wonderful, “blank sheet of paper” by Artemis. They said, “build us a world-class school” and here I am. My starting point has been asking what will be best for the kids growing up in the 2020s and 2030s? Of course, we will be supporting our pupils to get into the best universities in the world, and I have been talking to many brilliant universities about what they will want to see in their future students. What is fantastic is that we have the chance to develop a curriculum around that.
The building’s industrial metal beam work will become a feature of The Lisboan’s interiors
We have been interviewing some incredible candidates for our leadership roles and hearing their feedback on what we are trying to achieve with The Lisboan has been brilliant. One chap said “this is the most exciting project in world education at the moment” and I quite agree!
It sounds like The Lisboan will be rather special. How has the Kidzink team helped to create the physical spaces that bring your curriculum to life?
Yes, the curriculum will be exciting at The Lisboan, but the physical space will be equally so. This building was originally built as a pasta factory somewhere between 1904 and 1910. The walls are really, really thick! We have beautiful windows, some original tiling and incredible metal beams throughout. Kidzink have helped us to create this really exciting interface between the old-fashioned industrial surroundings and the forward-looking curriculum.
Obviously, we have lots of classrooms, but also this huge, cavernous space inside these thick walls which will give us a great number of breakout areas. There will be breakout spaces to talk, to socialise, but also to work and study privately. Then, one of my real design highlights is the huge library. We have the most enormous space for a library – it is wonderful! This will be a place for reading, of course, but you also might take your laptop there and do some research.
When will The Lisboan open, and which year groups will you open with?
We will be welcoming our first pupils in September 2023. At first, like most international schools, we thought the logical thing to do was to open from age three to 12, but since arriving in Lisbon it has become clear to me that there is a massive shortage of international school places, in-particular for pupils aged 16-18. It seemed a crazy idea at first, to open with the lower age groups and then the older classes, but the team at Artemis have been so supportive – so that is where we are at right now, responding to the needs of families in Lisbon!
Why should families and businesses consider Lisbon as a location?
Everyone seems to want to come to Lisbon right now! I think it is seen as the best of Europe. It’s warm, it’s diverse, it’s friendly and you can get to so many places, quickly.
Last question! Why should schools choose to work with Kidzink?
The whole team here feels immensely grateful for all that Kidzink is doing. We have also worked with Portuguese architect, Frederico Valsassina (a bit of a local celebrity!) for this project. He has designed the ‘shell’ of the building but, equally, he recognised that we needed a company with a strong educational mindset for the interiors. Having worked with Kidzink for Northview School in Qatar, we knew that Kidzink were the people we needed. Right from the start, we have seen Kidzink come up with incredible ideas. Even better, you all go about your work with incredible positivity, and it’s such a pleasure!