We see school as an important element of social infrastructure which should be both pragmatic and flexible as it integrates people and spaces, creating conditions for communication, as well as for formal and informal transfer of knowledge.
Our strategy was to achieve diversity with the help of simple means. The entire volume is compact and almost square in shape. Most circulation spaces (lobby, ramps, spaces near classrooms, open air galleries) are places for communication and holding various school events. These spaces have a different degree of public exposure, ranging from concentration to dispersion.
All school events and the building itself are determined by three courtyards: the public cour d’honneur at the front, the kindergarten peristyle, and the gym atrium that spans three floors.
The main axis of the school connects the front courtyard with the backyard, going through all the main premises as if they are beads on a string. The kindergarten is introvertedly shaped around its inner courtyard with open galleries running along the three sides of the courtyard, which creates the atmosphere of safety and community.
Our solution is an attempt to find a balance between “social distancing” between the neighbors, fitting within the street line, and creating a cour d’honneur which becomes a public front square. The compact volume allows us to give more space to the courtyard which gradually passes into the rural landscape.
The school backyard has gentle slopes, which makes it convenient for various purposes. In the south-east, there is an open-air amphitheater overlooking the stage of the assembly hall, becoming a duplicate of the indoor spectator hall. In this way, we create an open-air venue for school and public events.
The public front square leads to the lobbies of the kindergarten and the school. All public school premises, such as the library, the canteen, and the gym, have immediate access from the lobby as well. Ramps lead to the top floor and to the floor that lies on the same elevation point as the courtyard. There are also three staircases distributed throughout the school that serve as additional facilities for getting around the building.
Glass walls separate the gym from the galleries and the open space with the ramps. Together, they unite the school’s inner space into a single whole and fill it with natural light.
The ramps make up the eventful core of the building. It is a place where everyday life takes place and major school events and performances are held.
Because of the difference in elevation, one can reach the middle level right from the main entrance in Kardausova street. Then, following the ramps, one can easily reach levels -1 or 2.
The school building and the kindergarten courtyard are encircled by galleries that perform several functions at the same time, i.e. additional ways for circulation and escape; a place where you can enjoy fresh air being sheltered from rain and direct sunlight; a function that controls solar factor; an opportunity to have open air classes; a feature that supports the green skin of the building. Depending on the season, the foliage controls the incoming sunlight.
One of the key design principles is to ensure immediate interaction between indoor and outdoor spaces.
All classrooms have large sliding doors that face open air galleries. In warm weather, the doors can be left open transforming indoor classrooms into open air classrooms.
Structurally, the building represents a cast-in-situ concrete framework with the spacing of 4.2–8.5 meters. The gym ceiling is made of metal trusses.
The facades and open air galleries are made of precast concrete panels with wavy surfaces. The open air galleries running along the southern, northern, and eastern facades are also equipped with an additional layer of meshes made of metal cables strung on a frame. This is the place for climbing plants.
There are ten kiss&ride lots along the street for short-term parking. Canteen delivery, garbage collection, and staff parking are all situated below the front public square and can be accessed from the east.
In the west there is a footpath that connects Kardausova street and the historical bypass. This new connection provides access to the building along the whole perimeter in case of emergency.