Compass – School in Crete (Bioclimatic European School Complex) by OFFICETWENTYFIVEARCHITECTS O25
2012 - 2013, Platinum A' Architecture, Building and Urban Design Award Winner
Inspiration
The shape of the school is essentially an arrow that shows the path that the couple God Zeus and Europe followed due to the myth.Our building is acting as a memorial connecting a myth with reality.We wanted to create an international shape, an arrow that will point toward the rest of Europe, origin and destination of the future students of the school and a constant reference of where Crete belongs now.
Creativity
From the beginning of our design we felt that we had to balance between two facts: The one is that the school is European, has an international and cultural character and the second is that at the same time it is located in a landscape with a strong ''locality'' and thousands of years of history lost in the mists of legends and traditions. From this place started God Zeus transformed into a bull trying to steal Europe. The years passed, Europe gave its name to a continent and the island of Crete is the southernmost part of the continent. Our building is actually acting as a memorial connecting a myth with reality. We wanted to create an international shape, an arrow that will point toward the rest of Europe, origin and destination of the future students of the school and a constant reference of where Crete belongs now. We used the white color, an international and basic color that excludes any reference to world localities. The walls are engraved with European alphabets as a reference to integration and unification rather than division. Obviously, one of the alphabets are the symbols of the ''disk of Phaistos'' stimulating the pride of students who will learn that the first written text in Europe was written only a few kilometers from their school. Furthermore, the louvers of the school is a topic that concerned us a lot. As we have many louvers in our building we wanted to avoid the need of their frequent maintenance. We decided to use clay as their constructing material and the local craftsmen to construct them and revive an art which used to exist in the region thousands of years ago and nowadays leans to disappear. We paint them though white in order to stay faithful to our primary concept of internationality of the design but also retaining hidden the traditional principles and the power of the location. Our building follows the dictates of the international style, however, at second thought we can understand that it draws its power from the Earth in which it stands. We wanted our school to be multicultural but not impersonal and cold. It could be located anywhere but where would make as much sense the fact that it shows towards the North, it is white, it has the symbols from the ''disk of Phaistos'' and has the specific louvers and not some other. It is international and multicultural but with respect to the place where it is located.
Design Challenges
The hardest part of this challenge was to create an attractive school to the users of it,especially the kids. We had to establish the hole volume in a Mediterranean site The building is located in an olive grove. The Cretan nature is unique, so we use local plants in the gardens around the school. It is an opportunity for children who live and grow up in the city to have this experience with nature. The passage from indoors spaces to the outdoor spaces is direct and only in the secondary school department there are areas where there is the need for someone to descend a staircase in order to go outdoors. Each level of education within the building operates independently. In the center of the complex we located the kindergarten, protected from both wings like a hug. In that way, we protect and secure the younger children of the school, who for the first time leave their homes and create for them an environment of introverted. In the kindergarten department there is also an enclosed courtyard, a sheltered space where kids play and adapt to the new data with security. The primary school is located on the lower level of the school. It has a courtyard with one entry-exit point. All classes of the primary school have direct access to the courtyard and the kids of primary school can have the independence that they want. There are no staircases inside and outside the school and an independent, controlled and protected area is created. The students of secondary school due to the fact that they are the older students of the school want their independence. The classrooms of the secondary school are placed in the two highest level of the school building. While the students enter the school they pass through a courtyard from where they can see the kindergarten and the primary school through a short but daily look.
Production Technology
From an engineering point of view, the Compass – School in Crete Bioclimatic European School Complex by OFFICETWENTYFIVEARCHITECTS O25 is a good example of a highly-developed project.
       
     
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