St. Catherines School
Architectural Design: Maria Kokkinou – Andreas Kourkoulas
Architectural Consulting: John Peponis
Architectural Planning Consulting: Antonia Panou
Architectural Design Team: Nicholas Paplomatas, Yiorgos Iliadis, Marianna Athanasiadou, Marianna Lizardou, Tassos Ringas
Structural Design: ME.T.ER.
E/M Design: MELCON Engineering E.E.
Sustainability Design: Aris Tsangrassoulis
Traffic Design: Aristides Karlaftis
Landscape Design: Helly Pangalou & Associates
A very traditional typology of school buildings, the pavilions branching off a central spine, is radically re-interpreted to create a unique building.
- Pavilion-like volumes, arranged on a regular underlying grid, accommodate specialized and clearly demarcated components of the program, including classrooms. The material and tectonic expression of these pavilions suggests a sense of permanence. Dimensions and the treatment of surfaces allow flexible use over time, long term and on a daily basis. All classrooms have large continuous wall surfaces, ample light, connections with the outdoors, and careful buffering from potential external disruptions.
- A dynamic spine serves as the heart of the school. This acts as the main space of collective identity, movement, interaction, informal activity and unobtrusive surveillance. Critical programmatic functions are distributed as integral parts or extensions of the spine. The library holds the center of gravity of the School and frames the entrance. On the public front of the site, along Kontogianni Street, the spine culminates at the auditorium. On the opposite end of the site, the spine leads to the athletic grounds. The treatment of surfaces along the spine is soft, textured and transparent, to accommodate the possibility of change over time. The spine is the scaffold, literally and symbolically, for the ongoing construction and expression of school culture and will be designed in detail as collective infrastructure.
- There are four different kinds of outdoor spaces. (a) An orchard, across the main entrance, acts as a space of quitter repose. (b) A covered open space, between the garden and the auditorium, acts as a major courtyard, closely linked to the restaurant. (c)Trellis-covered roof terraces invite students to sit in a variety of individual and group learning arrangements near the spine, the library, the auditorium and the bar. (d) The basketball field is located at the eastern edge of the site. In addition to these major outdoor spaces, small gardens are planted adjacent to ground floor classrooms, to provide buffering and visual enrichment.
- The main entrance, symbolically associated with the library, is on Antonopoulou Street. A vehicular drop-off recess is provided along the street. However, the main vehicular access is along the inner long edge if the site where an access street is created. At ground level school busses drop students off near the orchard, to access the main entrance through an inviting path. On and off ramps provide access to the underground garage.
- The visual identity of the school suggests a dialogue between multiplicity (the programmatically specialized pavilions) and integration (spine) between permanence (concrete) and change (wood) between order (the grid) and freedom (the curved spine) between openness (obvious entrance, visible library, active terraces overlooking the street) and enclosure (inner garden and open courtyard) between transparency (transversely along the length of the plan, frontally along the spine) and opacity (the demarcation of interior teaching spaces as seen from the street). The words that should best describe the image are: home of learning – theater of the imagination.