Šentvid Grammar School and Šentvid Primary School Gym
Open, Public, Anonymous Architectural Competition
Ljubljana, Slovenia, 2021
New Gymnasium based on Prakash Nair's 20 learning modalities.
The design of the open space builds on the idea of a unified image of the school complex and the co-creation of the city center. The school complex is located among strong infrastructural corridors and visually connects with the surrounding cultural and forest landscape. In the south, the location is clearly defined by the existing and morphological prominent Šentvid Primary School, the work of architect Bežek from 1957. It is placed transversely to the existing and anonymous village building tissue in order to provide proper orientation and sun exposure for educational programme. Together with the church of St. Vitus it forms a spatial dominant of Šentvid area.
The primary school has a high-quality, green, main entrance promenade. From the location valuable views open to the north, north-east, east and through the primary school into the inner school playground that represents a green enclave caught between the infrastructure network of Celovška road in the south, the motorway ring in the west and the railway in the north. This 'entrapment' of the green recreational area among the surrounding facilities is recognized as the main quality of the location, offering a less noisy space for educational and recreational programs not only for the both schools, but also wider Šentvid area that is in sore lack of public green spaces.
The new Šentvid Grammar School is formed as a compact lamella in the SE-NW direction, placed on the extreme north-eastern edge of the plot, parallel to the Šentvid Primary School. Together with the sunken gym, which acts as a connecting link between the two school buildings and a buffer against the noisy access road on the west, it forms a calm, half-open square facing east.
The design of advanced internal school space is inspired by contemporary pedagogical insights, which could have a positive impact and contribute to the future development of informal learning. Instead of the usual division of the school building according to the principle of "cells and bells" (Nair, 2014), the competition proposal follows 20 ‘learning modalities’ as defined by Prakash Nair, through which we create a wide range of diverse learning, working and social spaces that support the acquisition of diverse skills and competences for the 21st century.
At the ground floor an ambient staircase is created along the entire length of the lamella, oriented towards the athletic track located south of the building. The staircase with an inserted mezzanine creates two levels of social, exhibition and learning spaces. These activate the whole ground floor as a key public space of the gymnasium, always connected to the outside and the wider community. Two program anchors are then placed in the volume of the staircase - on the ground floor a distribution kitchen with a youth room on its roof and a spherical planetarium with multimedia classroom in its vicinity. On the ground floor level facing north, all school services are located.
In the upper floors, a system of diverse learning and social spaces is formed by gradually opening classroom walls towards circulation areas ("classroom +") or connecting learning spaces into "clusters" that enable students and teachers to explore a variety of learning modalities. In this way, the formal space of the corridor is decomposed, becoming part of the informal learning, working and socializing. By creating voids in the slabs at all levels, we reduced the number of circulation areas, enabled double-sided illumination of the central connecting axis and provided long views into the depth of the building, increasing connectivity between students and staff.
Green recreational areas are designed as a larger area of tree planting, among which sports fields and a running track are located. The latter also establishes the main external connection between the primary school, gymnasium and, ultimately, the existing sports hall in the west, along which we develop a small park with sunken sports field and a vertical connection to the underground garage. In the south-eastern part of the plot, playgrounds for primary school children are planned, while the outdoor terraces of the newly located first triad are located on the south side of the primary school.
Nair, P. (2014). From Cells and Bells to Learning Communities. Retrieved from PrakashNair: https://prakashnair.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/From-Cells-and-Bells-to-Learning-Communities.pdf
Location: Ljubljana, Slovenia
Project date: 2021
Site area: 22.455 m2
Building area: 3.874 m2
Total floor area: 9.560 m2
Client: Ministry of Education, Science and Sport - MIZŠ, Ljubljana Municipality - MOL
Authors: SVET VMES, Ltd.: Jure Hrovat, Ana Kreč, Ludmila Jankovichova, Matic Hlede, Urh Ručigaj Roberts
Landscape architecture: TEKTONIKA, Ltd.: Darja Matjašec, Nejc Florjanc, Pia Kante, Katja Mali
Collaborators: Amadej Mravlak, student
Award: Honorable mention