BĂLCESCU HIGH SCHOOL

International Design Competition

URBAN CONCEPT. BLUE-GREEN CORRIDOR.

Canalul Morii is part of the blue-green system of the Somes valley,  a green corridor crossing the city center, essential to the ecology, landscape and biodiversity of an otherwise anthropic environment. We envisage a wider re-naturing of this man-made watercourse by uncovering it and softening its concrete walls along with implementing a linear phytoremediation system in the waterbed. This allows for better visual connection and access points close to the water.  Improved planting of trees, reduced car traffic in favor of pedestrian areas, permeable materials and a sensitive urban lighting system complement a nature based design concept. 

SITE LAYOUT. FREEING AS MUCH SPACE AS POSSIBLE.

The proposed new high school building is developed on the northern edge of the plot, on the same alignment with the existing building, to free as much of the courtyard as possible, facing south and in connection with Canalul Morii ecosystem. This layout enables a series of accesses for different epidemiological scenarios, as well as open functions to the general public on both streets (Balcescu and Arges). The outdoor sport facilities are grouped on the south side acting as a kind of low-rise soft buffer space. 

COURTYARD, PLAYGROUNDS AND SPACES OF GATHERING. THE GARDENS.

Our aim was to create an overall perception of a large amphitheatre with different levels open to the main garden-courtyard, an architecture for interaction and outdoor gathering that amplifies the perception and diversity of exterior spaces. The former botanical garden in the school’s courtyard inspired us to recreate a garden-park like atmosphere that infiltrates deep into the project and emphasizes  its naturalistic approach. The courtyard develops generously in the shade of trees and facilitates a subtle transition between inside and outside. The interior courtyards set between the classroom modules bring light to the ground floor spaces and create protected spaces with natural elements present in all parts of the highschool. 

Mineral spaces are grouped in the sports yard on the eastern side and on the elevated yard of the 1st floor. These areas support sports, recreation and playground activities during breaks or even after classes. The elevated yard creates shaded spaces and reduces the perceived scale of objects while accentuating a landscape impression of intermediary spaces. The former gardener’s house is transformed into a greenhouse and tree nursery for the maintenance of the garden. 

PROGRAMME. THE SCHOOL OF TOMORROW.

The class arrangement avoids rigid linear formulas proposing a flexible layout, adaptive in the future and that facilitates the forming of micro-communities. Learning is transparent, so visual accessibility is part of the educational process. It allows the children and teachers to see each other, to connect with each other all the time, because school is a network of relationships between pupils, teachers, materials, the outdoors, and the world beyond.  Acoustics are also very important, the classes are oriented in such a way so the children better hear the teacher.

The school library is developed into the learning commons located on the ground floor of the new building. The Learning Commons is the new center of the entire school, it is a flexible space with multifunctional spaces that adapt according to the needs of the teachers and children. It is a flexible science hub with a media center, laboratories, maker space and multipurpose room for information, collaboration, meetings, socialization, playing games and studying. 

ARCHITECTURAL EXPRESSION. POROUS UNITY. 

Our proposal creates a dignified yet honest expression of educational architecture, however avoiding a rigid institutional image through the use of porosity and diverse, gradual outdoor and indoor spaces. The main volume of the proposal relates with the existing school in alignment, dimensions and the horizontal composition, while the individual modules towards str. Balcescu reduce the scale and facilitate integration with the urban fabric in the north. 

 

PROGRAM: “BĂLCESCU HIGH-SCHOOL” INTERNATIONAL DESIGN COMPETITION

STATUS: competition 

LOCATION: Cluj-Napoca (RO)

YEAR: 2021

COLLABORATORS: Szilveszter Szabolcs (EvoHouse), Horhat Ana (sAH studio de peisaj Ana Horhat), Sala Narcis, Mirișan Andreea, Simionescu Bogdan, Bolojan Lucia.