Designed by AREA (Architecture Research Athens), their proposal, ‘Mosaic’, for the Innovative, Bioclimatic, European School Complex in Crete, springs from the belief that a diverse and stimulating educational environment, rich in experiences, provides the best context for mutual learning. Conceived as an organic whole, the Mosaic complex appears as a grid of multiple, interlocking “pavilions”, each with its own, unique architectural character, all of which are arranged within an orderly and seamless Master Plan. More images and architects’ description after the break.
An integral system of interior courtyards complements the pavilions and creates a range of outdoor environments, each with its own characterization. Together, the pavilions and courtyards create a rich physical setting reminiscent not only of the multi-cultural past of the site’s Minoan roots; but it also expresses the diverse cultural fabric that forms the school’s European present.
Bioclimatic considerations have driven the specific form of the school building at every level of design, from the Master Plan to individual pavilions and outdoor spaces, directly influencing its unique physical identity. At the scale of the Master Plan, the complex is entirely integrated into the surrounding landscape and is limited to one- and two-storey structures in harmony with the topography. Only the upper portions of each of the 16 basic building blocks rise above the level of the trees, expressing a different spatial concept in relation to the use of natural light and ventilation. The result is a distinctive yet discreet “roofscape” visible from the hilly surroundings, representing a school community that is both dynamic and balanced.
At the same time, the multiple courtyards arranged throughout the complex (20 total, with greater and lesser degrees of openness to the surrounding topography) bring the natural environment deep into the heart of the school “campus”. The surrounding olive groves are allowed to spill over into the courtyards, creating “outdoor rooms” that extend the indoor spaces of the school across the entire site. The courtyards themselves also mimic the subtle inclination of the ground by gradually stepping down from one end of the land plot to the other. In some cases, the natural ground slope is augmented in order to provide outdoor seating arrangements, integral to the landscape.
Architects: AREA (Architecture Research Athens) Location: Crete, Greece Team: Styliani Daouti, Giorgos Mitroulias, Michaeljohn Raftopoulos, Anna Vocali Energy Consulatant: Katerina Drakou Competition: UIA International Architectural Competition; Innovative, Bioclimatic, European School Complex in Crete, Greece Result: Special Mention