International Architectural Competition for an Innovative, Bioclimatic, European School Complex in Heraklion, Crete, Greece. Organised by UIA and the School Building Organisation in Greece.
Similarly to the olive groves of the surrounding area, our project leaves traces, marks and organises the earth upon which it is built; it is a “bridge” that connects, a “clay wall” that defines and protects, and a “cave” that shelters knowledge.
We responded to the intense landscape of the area of Voutes, Crete – the cliffs and valleys of the region – and sought for an architectural gesture that would take advantage of these microclimatic conditions. At the same time, the scheme underlines the presence of the educational institution, not by standing out, but by letting the agrarian landscape play the leading role. The agricultural terraces, the dry stone walls and all the existing forms of environmentally sustainable management of earth, natural resources, and space constitute our primary references.
The volumes of the schools are arrayed facing south, in such a way that all the classrooms are exposed to the best climatic conditions of natural light and ventilation. The schools for the different age groups break into two distinct volumes occupying the two sides of a linear open plaza. While planning regulations of the region allow higher volumes, our proposal does not exceed the height of two storeys to create an open, horizontally organised school that inculcates un-hierarchical, egalitarian values to its students.
The size and typology of each school was dictated by the age and specific needs of the pupils. The kindergarten is a small-scale protected environment, organised around a small yard. The primary school is also arranged around a larger atrium, in the fashion of a contemporary agora. The secondary school – the largest building in the complex – is a compact block of two semi-independent clusters.