Competition: 3. award
Concurring opinion of the expert commission: 1. award
Authors: Peter Gabrijelčič, Kaja Todorovič, Aleš Gabrijelčič
The competition area is located in a small village called Cerklje ob Krki in the Lower Carniola region. It borders on the regional road in the north, next to which a signature neoclassical Austro-Hungarian school with a newer extension is set, which opens towards an existing school playground and garden in the north. The regional road is the programme and pictorial axis of the settlement. Public programmes such as the school, the shop and the post office are set next to it. Because it was developing in-between two important traffic roads, the settlement features distinct roadside construction, with direct access to residential and public units/programmes, such as the primary school and kindergarten.
Primary schools and kindergartens have always been, especially in smaller settlements, an important cornerstone of the urban consciousness of the locals and a generator of social contacts between a wide variety of age and social groups. They are an important identity point of a town and reside in our consciousness as the place to which our earliest memories are connected to. They are often the only spot of a public, cultural and social life in a town and are as such correspondingly spatially constructed. When designing the suggested urban and architectonic scheme we were guided by the belief that it is necessary to open a series of programmatic and spatial opportunities with the two new buildings – opportunities the town has so far been lacking. Because of this we offered a wide range of diverse interior and exterior spaces at the level of urban design, which extend from semi-public to public areas. In this respect the “new” school and kindergarten will act as a complex spatial and programmatic structure in the area. We have searched for starting points for the development of the concept in the understanding of the wider context of space and the given location. The design of the building volumes is fundamental but at the same time complex. We have solved several programme tasks simultaneously with a thought-through, minimalistic layout of the building masses. This is why the school and kindergarten function as a clear spatial structure, comprised of simple spatial elements, but is at the same time ambient rich and poetic, because of balanced spatial proportions, integration and openness into the urban and green area. We wanted to offer a kind, encouraging and creative environment for the children and pupils, while raising it towards the understanding of the spatial culture and architecture. This is why the solutions in the urban as well as architectonic and construction standpoints are clear-cut.
When designing the urban scheme we followed the typical structure of the settlement and the directions of its construction. The position of the old school coincides with the line regulation geometry, which contributes to the characteristic and orderly appearance of the constructed landscape of the settlement next to the main road. This specific fact together with the important symbolic and cultural communicativeness of the old structure contributed to our decision of preserving the old structure as a part of the cultural and urban tradition of the town. We have suggested the construction of a substitute extension in the width of the existing Austro-Hungarian structure (which in height reaches the wreath of the old school), because of the unsuitable layout of the spaces and the lack of programme in the newer tract and extension. Doing this we have discretely upgraded the old school building programme-wise and preserved it as the dominant structure in the space, but at the same time added to it the necessary classrooms, joint programmes, administration and a gymnasium with an accompanying programme. The extension facility is not over-divided, and can because of that harmoniously merge with the symbolic form of the old school as a simple urban volume.
The kindergarten facility is as opposed to the school facility set in NW-SE direction of the buildings, which lie on the other side of the regional road. A mutual outdoor space of the school and kindergarten is formed in the gap between the two facilities, having the feature of a multi-purpose public area. The kindergarten is on the ground floor only and has direct access to the green surfaces, the garden and playground, and the playrooms with terraces face the west. It does not restrict the view from the upper levels of the school towards the village and church because of its ground floor positioning. With its layout it moves away from the views and noises of the main road. The primary school and kindergarten are jointed with a warm glass link, in which the entrance to the kindergarten and the entrance for other gymnasium users are located. The gymnasium is situated at the far south of the primary school’s new extension.
The kindergarten and the new school are designed as lamellas, which follow distinctive directions of construction. As previously mentioned, they have a formed space for social and cultural interactions. By placing a public space of this sort in the settlement area we have created not only an important meeting and networking point between children and parents, but have also made a comfortable space, which can be used by the surrounding residents for meetings and socialising in the time the kindergarten and school are closed. A special impression to the space is made by the growing tree (Acer platanoides), symbolising firmness, growth and knowledge.