20 April, 2014

Diffuse school in the urban tissue of Patras

The design addresses the real situation of Exo Ayia, a developing area in the periphery of Patras, Greece.

Greek version

Student: Maria A. Kouvari
Supervisor: Prof. Georgios A. Panetsos
Department of Architecture, University of Patras
Presentation date: October 2013


Two interrelated ideas form the premise for the diffused design of the school complex:

-the school as 'urban condenser' in the form of public facility/public space/landscape network within the city and
-the school as communication means to society of the central importance of education as both an institution and a place

The design addresses the real situation of Exo Ayia, a developing area in the periphery of Patras, Greece. The selection of location was made after extensive research was performed on existing children's institutions and educational needs in Patras using a pertinent educa­tional- and spatial planning methodology and relevant projections in time.

Three independent sites, defined as recreation areas by the city plan, have been selected for the project. A pedestrian street system is designed that will establish them as both a coherent entity and a network at the local as well as the city level.

The school complex consists of a nursery - primary school, a secondary school and a youth center.

Greek school buildings in general still conform to Modernist typologies of the 1930s. Partly under the influence of Ivan Ilich's views about 'Deschooling Society' (1971) (which reject traditional schools and propose schools as learning centers), SANAA's Rolex Education Center and drawing upon a previous project of mine ' Inter-disciplinary School' . A new fluid spatial typology was intro­duced, which aims at providing internal openness and possibility of interaction with the community, with a view to change and progress. Alternative forms of teaching are assumed to be encouraged via projects, discussions and experiences. The interior is therefore organized according to the requirements of dynamic learning groups moving in free space.

The school complex, diffuse at three interconnected locations within the city fabric, is designed as public space. The buildings are actually wavy sandwiches/slabs with depressions, extrusions, holes and underpasses that enhance their character as permeable structures of public character. School courtyards are actually atriums providing both 'protected openness' and communication through visual transpar­ency and/or translucency, as well as physical/spatial continuity. Entrances to all schools are marked by an upward 'flaring' of the wavy sur­face, while entrances to their respective public spaces are marked with excisions in plan. The relation among classes, schools and society is dynamic. Continuity and diffusion exist both at level of class and at urban level of school - society.


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