Location: Herakleion, Crete. Greece
Area: 6070 m²
Client: School Buildings Organisation of Greece
Date: 2012 | International Competition Entry _3rd Place
Throughout the history of the built environment, the courtyard typology is characterized by the universality of its use. In hotter climates it has provided a model for passive cooling through cross ventilation, heat exhaust, and the creation of a microclimate. More fundamentally, it has brought people together for the cultivation of lasting relationships. This archetype forms the basis of our design for the SEEH Bioclimatic School Complex. Within the mosaic of multiculturalism, and with multiple stages of life forming a cohesive whole, it is with the courtyard that we strive to create common ground, and to give expression to the cosmopolitan history and populace of Crete. The project responds to the directive that all educational units, from Kindergarten to 12th grade, “constitute an entity while at the same time be capable of operating independently”.
Solid exterior walls define the courtyards. Carved from this white mass, tall vertical windows illuminate the spaces beyond. Lining the interior of these courtyards, a cloister shaded by olive-wood fins defines the inner world of the schools. The connection of buildings to landscape presents two contrasting conditions: Where the building is embedded into the natural topography of the site, a language of stone walls retains earth and provides a visual foundation for the more fluid and airy white mass above. Where the natural topography drops, piloti support the underbelly of the schools, creating outdoor shaded areas of education, physical activity, and repose.