international design competition


The site is strategically situated at the fringe of a complex system of green areas and the well-established modernist ensemble of Gheorgheni neighborhood. The project creates a strong connection between landscape and urban fabric, breaching the existing limit and creating new passageways, for continuous flows for pedestrians and cyclists, enforced by tree planting on a precise grid, that define a series of transitional spaces.  The connected alleys are shared spaces with improved planting of trees, reduced car traffic in favor of pedestrians and bikes with a sensitive urban light system to complement a nature-based design concept.


The modernist residential ensemble is characterized by long slender volumes with horizontal balconies, concrete prefabricated panels and accents of green tiles. It is an inspiration for the proposal that significantly transforms the two existing buildings, without major structural interventions. As a manifesto of functionalism, the existing buildings offer suitable spaces for the highschool, with favorable East-West orientation. We decided to keep their configuration, and compensate for the limited spaces of the corridors, by opening these buildings to the landscape through a series of loggias that act as sheltered open air recreational spaces, alternative circulations, informal learning spaces, and outdoor classes. Thus they become part of the landscape, conveying the impression of park pavilions. The new added structures enforce the typical orthogonal composition of volumes. The horizontal profile of loggias serve as a common architectural expression, part of the same educational facility.


The re-naturing of the school courtyards with vegetation and permeable surfaces is a central element of the concept. The courtyards are characterized by a series of islands, designed according to the age necessities of the children, providing open spaces for a safe recreational environment. A layout with varied activities, a lot of green spaces and adventure-packed design leads to less bullying and injuries. The areas adjacent to the building host the main sport and play surfaces, towards the park the courtyard turns into a lush green area with a park-like atmosphere.

The design aims to create attractive, varied activities for everyone both during and after school, whether in a group or individually, both actively and passively. The playground for the little ones is facing south, the islands there are developed into hills that offer more privacy from the street and support for slides. Besides the multisports field, there are also tartan surfaces for physical education or for outdoor classes, organized in a series of islands surrounded by bushes and trees. The slope of the terrain integrates seat rows that can provide the necessary setting for outdoor events or places for resting, learning or relaxing during the breaks. There are also separate areas for outdoor quiet zones and learning areas. The sports hall roof is a gardening space for the pupils.


The two buildings function as independent units, while the middle school (0-8) is located on the northern site, the highschool (9-12) is entirely on the south site. In order to accommodate 29 classes the middle school gained two more new linear extensions to accommodate also a library, a dining hall and a sports hall, while the highschool is extended with a new sports hall. Each building has permissive premises with functions open to the community, acting as a civic center for pupils and the local community, grouped so that they can be accessed directly from a separate entrance. 


The school of tomorrow is adaptable and flexible, allowing the evolution of the learning space. The new extension of the school with classrooms can become such a space that can be adjusted according to the pupils and teachers needs for new forms of learning.


The main intervention on the existing building is an additional structure meant to maximize the recreational areas. A continuous loggia runs along the entire length of the existing facade, providing space for open-air classrooms and outdoor corridors for the pupils to enjoy. With the aim of opening the school to nature, exterior spaces offer a positive and beneficial educational environment. Deep overhangs provide passive shading, protecting from excessive heat and from the rain.


For the existing part several measures of energy rehabilitation will reduce primary energy needs by about 65%. Rather than massive insulation of outer walls, our measures are more subtle, yet effective. These include better air tightness, controlled ventilation, insulation of underground elements (that at the same time will provide water tightness) and the insulation of the roof level slab. For the new parts the overall Envelope Surface/Gross Floor Surface is about 3:1 which creates a compact building. Good insulation, good air tightness and efficient controlled ventilation systems ensure the energy balance is optimal. Deep overhangs provide passive shading and protect from excessive heat gain during warm months. Trees are positioned to provide passive shading for interior and exterior areas as well. Part of the new terrace roofs will be used for solar and PV panels.



STATUS: competition 

LOCATION: Cluj-Napoca (RO)

YEAR: 2023

COLLABORATORS: Simionescu Bogdan, Svinți Ivona