Source: Landscape Middle East
Publication date: 30-11-2022
Egypt’s National Training Academy is designed to bridge the gap for aspiring young leaders
In 2017, the National Training Academy (NTA) came to life as an idea co-created by Egyptian youths upon a recommendation by the graduates of The Presidential Leadership Program (PLP) in Egypt. As a conclusion to this crucial recommendation, under the auspices of H.E President Abdelfattah AL-Sisi, the idea transformed into an endeavor founding the National Training Academy with the goal – that has succeeded, excelled and influenced the concept of design- of providing a multidisciplinary transformative and innovative incubator bridging the gap for such aspiring leaders, giving the green light to establish its first campus in Egypt, located in Sheikh Zayed City, Western Cairo, by renovating an existing administrative site.
By 2019, Schaduf Landscape Architects, a multidisciplinary consulting firm based in Egypt, was elected by the NTA’s Projects Team – youth engineers and architects – to be the master planner and landscape Architect, responsible of developing the design concept of the overall outdoor experience and the strategy of sustainability attained by the NTA’s project architect, synchronizing the landscape work with a consortium of specialized consultants driving the campus buildings’ renovation.
The assigned location imposed the first design challenge to the project, as the plan was to create a benchmark transformation of an existing 8-building administrative campus into a campus hosting an interactive learning environment through one of the most challenging renovation and retrofitting projects that was first to tackle in Egypt adopting this design direction.
Schaduf developed the design concept based on the Academy’s vision of fostering human capital development through transformation, regardless of individuals’ culture, education, gender, age, or social background covering as many as SDGS, which believes that people should interact with society and environment and vice-versa.
The main design aspect is realized through a range of tailored experiences -inspired by the tailored programs provided by the NTA- that fall under the umbrella of interactive learning meandering between outdoor and indoor spaces. The activities include lectures, seminars and workshops, panel discussions, gathering, models of simulation, experiential education, executive mentoring and internships, research and seminars, national and international socio-cultural activities and events, historical site visits, excursions, sports competitions and events.
Taking advantage of the challenging 20 m sloping between the Northern and Southern site edges, the design provides an interactive learning experience along the campus, taking the user on a daily cascading learning journey starting from “The Gateway”, a formal zone including the administrative facilities, to “The Brain”, a that combines the right and left parts of the brain to help users develop their skills, knowledge, and abilities by appealing to their conscious and psychological (sub- conscious) well-being, passing by “The Transition” zone that takes them down their different perceptions and traits, before reaching “The Unity” zone where they all gather despite their differences to experience the exchange of formal and informal learning experiences enhancing their minds, souls and bodies and transforming their personalities all over, then go back on the same journey to the gateway as graduates to foster change within their societies and working environments
the Gateway Zone
The Gateway zone, located on the highest point of the site in the northern direction, is the primary user arrival point to the project. Before beginning their journey or going down, users hurrying from the loud and desert atmosphere of the outer road are greeted with a calm relaxing fountain. The zone’s core space contains a VIP drop-off area as well as a high point with a view of the whole project’s main spine.
the Brain Zone
A wide flat space on the top plateau between two main buildings, meant to host small groups of up to three users. The location, with its reflective pool sheltered by date palms and flowering trees, is the ideal focal oasis for a team of users to conduct an uninterrupted discussion about their project during stages that demand innovation, creativity and inspiration.
the transition Zone
Due to the steep sloping terrain in this location, an 8-meter level difference is formed. The denoted transition was used in the design by re-sculpting the soil to create two primary dynamic outdoor creations. The cascading gathering terraces are dedicated to groups of up to 8 users and may be outfitted in a variety of ways depending on the season or the neighboring activity. And the Podium, a compact amphitheater that can seat up to 50 people and is ideal for full-class outdoor lectures or project presentations nevertheless the stones used in this zone will be used as a featuring wall of fame for NTA’s strategic partners as a sort of honoring to all who had partnered in the success of the NTA.
the unity Zone
The opening of this zone is a vast forested-like flat plaza at the site’s lowest level, which is intended to foster networking activities between different teams or classes. Seating choices in the plaza include benches, bean bags, or leaning against natural grass. A dry-deck fountain in the center of the space provides a soft white noise and becomes part of the hardscape whenever deactivated.
A vast amphitheater is carved over a 5 meter slope at the far end of the plaza, leading to the site’s lowest point. The theatre can accommodate up to 200 people for live performances or public speaking events.