Architects: LTFB Studio
Location: Bucharest, Romania
Architect In Charge: Liviu Fabian, Lucian Luta
Project Manager: VCE Vienna Consulting Engineers
Structure: DUCTIL TECH
Installations: SOLID INSTALL
Developer: ACM 4
Photographs: Cosmin Dragomir
This intervention must be related to the context: the communist architectural legacy from before 1989 in Romanian cities, the gray suburbs and neighborhoods with standardized blocks , the specific urban landscape of Europe’s former socialist bloc. Due to excessive standardization, many blocks of flats in Bucharest are identical with some of the apartment buildings in places located hundreds of miles away, indifferent to the socio-cultural specificity.
The uniformity and the standardization resulted in very few types of educational buildings in the entire country and, as a result, for a period of nearly half of century only a number of 2 or 3 high schools types were produced . That’s why, the planimetry and volumetry of the existent building of Dante Alighieri High School can be found in almost every city of Romania.
In the last 23 years, very few educational buildings were built and the improvements of the existent buildings were generally limited to thermal coating together with the repainting of the façade, usually in inappropriate colors. Some of the interventions consisted in roofing the buildings with wooden structure regardless of the original functionalist conception of the building.
The idea of an extension of Dante Alighieri high school appeared mainly as an answer to the need of an integrated educational center that comprises after-school facilities and other activities related to the main educational purpose of the building. Some of these types of spaces and activities are chronically missing in most of the schools previously built in Romania.
The nonfunctional and degraded old swimming pool in the eastern part of the schoolyard was integrated in one of the new building’s volumes. Between the new swimming pool hall and the existent sports hall, the resulting space is used for the annexes of the two sport facilities and for an adjacent small sportive dance hall. This area of the intervention, together with the volume of the educational facilities located on the first and second floor, the multifunctional hall, the canteen and the upper terraces revolve around the inner patio, the central element of the intervention, a space designed to be an alternative to the concrete schoolyard located on the western side of the existing school.
The randomly perforated facade of the educational volume (already an usual approach in the contemporary architecture) should be read in a playful key, as a contrast to the uniformity and monotony of the existing facade. This “game with windows” seems a puzzle with pieces of the tree foliage and green light filtered through them, seen from the inside. The upper terraces at 1st and 2nd floor represent an extension of the recreational space, but could be used also as an extension of the educational space, for example as outdoor classrooms.
Although this type of approach is not usual for the educational program in Romania, it is to hope that the intervention could be assimilated as a better way of designing a school and maybe, some things will change in the way the next generation will perceive their built environment.