The Nueva School

Hillsborough, CA

Back to

Moments of Play + Creative Engagement with Nature

The 2012 Master Plan Update provides a 15-year vision for the school, articulating the school’s vision and values into a physical plan for the campus. The school is a nationally recognized independent elementary and middle school, emphasizing integrated studies, creative arts, and social and emotional learning. The campus is a heavily wooded, 33-acre site at the top of a small promontory overlooking the Town of Hillsborough. Through an open, thoughtful, and inclusive process of listening and analysis, overarching goals were extrapolated and formed the framework for future campus development. The Nueva School’s recently completed Student Cafe and Environmental Center are the newest additions to the Hillsborough Campus, which reinforce the school’s commitment to sustainability and its passion for learning. The design ties the campus to the surrounding environment using the existing canopy of trees as inspiration. This first phase of implementation creates a series of outdoor spaces that encourage students to connect with nature, experiment, and explore. The California native plant palette provides a fire resistant and resilient landscape and lends itself to the carbon neutral project goals.

To work with and compliment the 30-foot grade change on campus, CMG developed a circulation strategy through the creation of an elevated canopy walk that provides students and faculty alike with a means to transition from the Student Center to the 2nd story of the Environmental Center. In addition to the canopy walk, a series of complex retaining walls reinforce the radial form of the architecture and define the outdoor spatial arrangements. Creating opportunities for seating, exploration, and outdoor learning. The outdoor classrooms also provide students with the ability to connect with nature and each other – further encouraging learning opportunities that allow them to experience endemic native flora and fauna habitat. Image Credit: Richard Barnes/JBSA

The Nueva School master plan strengthens the school’s connection to nature and clarifies site circulation to reclaim the heart of the campus as a pedestrian space. Areas of play and creative engagement with nature are an essential part of the culture of the school and are reinforced in the new Canopy Walk and Student + Environmental Center – allowing the school to be a responsible steward of their cherished campus for future generations to come.