School Asymmetry by Marlon Blackwell Architects


American studio Marlon Blackwell Architects designed five unusual buildings for Thaden School in Arkansas

School asymmetry by Marlon Blackwell Architects

The private school Thaden School, located in the city of Bentonville, teaches teenagers from 6 to 12 grades. The school is named after pilot Iris Louise McFetridge Theyden and is supported by the Walton Family Foundation, which is led by the founders of Walmart. Recently, the school received five new buildings designed by the American bureau Marlon Blackwell Architects. All buildings are different from each other, but have certain common features – especially in terms of their shape and location.

“Campus buildings use a typology typical of Arkansas, with long, narrow buildings oriented to the cardinal directions to allow natural ventilation and minimize exposure to the hot southern sun,” say the architects.

School asymmetry by Marlon Blackwell Architects

On the west side of campus is the Wheels Research and Development Building, which links the school to the nearby town square. The canopy above the main entrance, overlooking the main street, serves as a “calling card” of the campus and at the same time a room for a bicycle parking and a workshop. “A large central corridor expands to accommodate student collaboration spaces and classrooms that are illuminated by daylight throughout the year,” say the architects

School asymmetry by Marlon Blackwell ArchitectsEntrance to the Wheels R&D building.

On the eastern edge of campus is the Bike Barn Gym. The architects lined the body with local cypress, painted with red paint with a transparent impregnation. “With the exception of storage areas and changing rooms, the entire space is naturally ventilated thanks to open seams in the cypress plank sheathing, ventilated skylights and numerous doors,” the authors of the project note.

School Asymmetry by Marlon Blackwell ArchitectsBike Barn Gym.School asymmetry by Marlon Blackwell ArchitectsGym Bike Barn

The architects also designed the campus gate, called the Super Shed (not built yet), which will house bicycle parking and a student drop-off area.


On the north side of the campus is the administrative building, which also houses the school workshops.

Photo: Timothy HersleySchool asymmetry by Marlon Blackwell ArchitectsSchool Asymmetry by Marlon Blackwell Architects

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