Marc Thomson, the Creator of the Mandalika School in South Lombok

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We recently sat down with Marc Thomson, the school Pembina and Creator of the new campus for Mandalika Intercultural School (MIS), to find out more about Kuta Lombok’s International School.

The school has been in operation since 2017 and this year will expand to a brand-new purpose-built campus in central Kuta.

The school serves all year groups from Early Years to High School. As a progressive school, students experience a unique, tailored learning environment that is very connected to the local community.

Read on to learn more and if you would like to get in touch with the school, you can do so at

Why did you have the idea to start a school in Lombok?

The school had been around for a couple of years before I got involved with a friend and investor named Peter Ball to help provide a more permanent campus as the town is growing quickly due to the MotoGP track and the increase in remote workers who want to enjoy our tropical island. My son, who is now nearly three, had also just been born and the school had been moving from location to location which was not conducive to providing the education the communities children deserved given the quality of the teaching staff.

Mandalika School

Can you tell us about the campus?

We worked with a school specialist architect to help us put together a progressive and sustainable campus. Our initial research on the location used was in line with EDGE environmental building practices. We looked at building orientation to allow us to reduce heat gain, predominant wind directions, efficient water use, sustainable building materials, and short safe access for children to travel to the school.

The campus buildings include modern classrooms, playing fields, Manta Hall (our bamboo assembly and indoor sports hall), as well as arts, computer, and science labs. We wanted to use indoor and outdoor learning spaces for collaboration and teaching. We also incorporated traditional Sasak architectural design at the security gate from which the children and parents must enter the school. The design of the classrooms was done in coordination with Manuel (school consultant) and Julie (Principle) who have 50 years of teaching experience.

Mandalika School

Would you consider this a sustainable school?

It is a progressive school and sustainability is one of the aspects that we have incorporated. Manta Hall is the new school’s main hall and a big part of its identity. It is a community wellness space and gymnasium for the campus. This beautiful piece of bamboo architecture will use locally sourced bamboo and sustainable building techniques. That being said, we have a modern building that suits the changing weather conditions of Kuta, Lombok.

We used the architecture as a teaching tool with ergonomic features for different age ranges, geometry and shape, scale, light and shadow, texture, material, and nature all incorporated into the design. The result is a holistic learning village with a strong educational mandate that seeks to inspire students to be more curious, more engaged, and more passionate about learning and the environment.

Mandalika school

Tell us about Manta Hall…

The design of the hall was supposed to be both functional and tell a story. The organic shape of the hall was inspired by a Giant Manta. The manta ray is one of Indonesia’s most beautiful and exotic marine creatures, capturing the heart of divers with its gentle, elegant ocean dance and unique shape. Native to the waters around Lombok, the IUCN listed the reef manta as vulnerable in 2019 and the giant manta as endangered in 2020.

One last fact, mantas have huge brains — the biggest of any fish — with specially developed areas for learning, problem-solving, and communicating. The giant rays are playful and curious, and might even recognize themselves in mirrors, a sign of self-awareness.

The school seems to be in a very beautiful location, what is the Mandalika like?

Lombok has long played second fiddle to the seductive wiles of its closest neighbor Bali. That may be coming to an end, as people start to get frustrated with the congestion of the major arteries in Bali and look for a more authentic island lifestyle that Kuta offers. The Mandalika project has improved the infrastructure around the town which caters to foodies, surfers, yogis, and partygoers in its own way. With natural beauty and a clean environment, we have seen an explosion in luxury villas along the south coast.

The school itself is located in the middle of a rice paddy, looking at a forested hillside and coconut trees. As part of the design, we have included in the campus our own orchard and mini-farm so the kids never lose their connection to nature. The fruit and vegetables that are harvested are to be used in the school canteen.

Read more: What Makes Mandalika An Incredible Destination? These 7 Things Will Give You The Answer!

What is the school community like?
Mandalika school

We have a very diverse community of cultures around the world. The people who live here range from local business owners to developers to crypto traders and everything in between. The local community is the friendliest people in the world. The smiles you see every day make it a pleasure to live here. The laid-back way of life is a little too infectious. We have also had amazing support from the local government with road infrastructure and support generally. The Lombok Governor, Mr. Dr. H. Zulkieflimansyah, S.E., M.Sc., recently visited us and was so impressed to see such a progressive institution on his island.

Article source: – Marc Thomson, the Creator of The Mandalika School in South Lombok

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