- City: Kaunas
- Country: Lithuania
Text description provided by the architects. The team of architects was entrusted with the implementation of the conversion of the territory of the immovable cultural values - the historical barracks in the Žemieji Šančiai district, to develop a creative placemaking, bringing vibrancy to an old military district. Built in a historic environment, Queen Martha's School building became a part of the transformation of an abandoned barracks into a multifunctional residential area consisting of 7 residential, 2 commercial buildings, a school, and a kindergarten.
Project 2017 was awarded the main prize of the competition "For Sustainable Development", and in the competition organized by the Lithuanian Real Estate Development Association in 2021, this barracks complex was selected as the best real estate project.
G. Natkevicius & Partners implemented the renaissance of Šančiai barracks not only by preserving the authentic architectural details and elements characteristic of tsarist construction - authentic brick decor, window sill decoration with “brick teeth”, arches, high ceilings, large windows, but also, as it is typical for this avant-garde architect, adapted construction innovations, enabling historic buildings to live in a modern way.
Queen Martha's School is a former one-story storage heritage building that was expanded after the reconstruction by accommodating the second floor. The new elements are composed emphasizing the architecture of the existing building, highlighting it as a union of two different historical periods. The modern roof volume with its flatness and spacious showcases is covered with COR-TEN, a rusty metal sheet coating. The architectural elements of the first floor and the roofs of the pediments are covered with COR-TEN metal as well.
In order to resurrect the buildings of the military town, it was necessary to change the prevailing depressing militaristic mood reflected in them. By emphasizing and preserving the surviving red brick masonry, which has become a part of both the exterior and the interior, a historic mood has been created in the newly reborn building.
The use of the principles of modern architecture for the purposes of raising and educating children has emphasized the historical environment and strengthened its relevance. The new environment preserves the opportunity to see both old and new - modern architecture. In this way, the architecture, while maintaining the harmony between the history of the building and the modern space that meets the needs of children, is not only adapted directly to the function of an educational institution but also becomes an educational tool for the younger generation.
The architectural expression and scale of the designed school building preserve the principles of the primary architectural and urban formation of Kaunas military town. The facades were rebuilt into authentic ones, as the rhythm of the small openings was destroyed when the building was converted into a heavy machinery warehouse during the Soviet era.
The plan of the building is of a regular rectangular shape, with symmetrical window openings and narrower extensions at the ends. By emphasizing the thickness and openings of the existing external walls, the new walls are built by inserting them inside the building, thus forming the internal space and the possibility to install modern showcases for new premises.
Classrooms, school laboratories, small halls & domestic premises are designed on the first and second floors. A corridor is formed along the middle of the second floor of the building, and the classrooms are arranged next to the outdoor windows. Maintaining the principle of a former military town, a space for children’s leisure time has been formed in front of the building.