104 – IM2015 – IM DESIGN STUDIO SRL

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Autor principal: arh. Ioan-Răzvan Molie

Colaboratori arhitectură: arh. Ana Maria Apahidean, arh. Adrian – Mihai Bumbaru, arh. Anca Ciubăncan, arh. Rareș Fundulea, arh. Matei Năstase, arh. Mihai Pandele

Colaboratori specialități: ing. Daniela – Maria Ababei – Inginer rezistență, ing. Andrei Alexandru – Daniel – Inginer instalații, ec. Teodora – Floriana Badea – Economist, dr. Ing. Peis. Ana-Maria-Roxana lstrate – Peisagist

Starting from the need for the continuous development of the educational environment, the presented solution aims to satisfy the functional needs of the existing climate with an emphasis on integration in the urban context defined by the layout of the surrounding buildings.

Overall, the buildings are differentiated into 3 education cycles, the north building keeping the primary school (grades 0-4) and the south building housing the middle school and high school (grades 5-12). Disfunctions found at the level of each building, as it can be observed in the current state, generate situations that require a versatile and flexible approach to the expansion idea of the schools. For this reason, the arrangement of the new spaces was made in such a way that the two buildings can run their activites individually in terms of the educational act, resulting in the distance between the buildings to be traveled only in particular situations involving the physical presence requirement for teachers or high school students,for example, in activities such as sports (from the south building to the north building).

From a technical point of view, the proposal aims to expand the existing buildings using a mixed structural framework – reinforced concrete and metal, with the use of high-efficiency materials that minimize the impact on the environment, thus giving buildings energy efficiency. It is also foreseen to replace the gable roof in order to be able to use the terrace for the purpose of placing photovoltaic panels and recovering rain water for later reuse. The south remodeling of the existing building features an atrium that spans the entire height of the building, providing natural light and exits for the movement of interior air so that the flow of natural ventilation is positively impacted.

At the level of architectural and urban expression, the solution proposes a contemporary approach that wants to counterbalance the character of the area dominated by the buildings erected in the communist era, by bringing in the foreground some elements related to the spirit of the place, the genius loci of Cluj, visibly marked in the two buildings by introducing the inner courtyard and portico for each of the two buildings. These architecture lingvistic elements are designed to offer a familiar contemporary image that can participate in a natural dialogue with the adjacent physical context but also with the social and cultural one.

The quality of the proposed spaces stands out for their adaptability and reuse in the context of the continuous reconfiguration of educational requirements. The new spaces are looking to cover a wide spectrum of possible educational activities and enhance the experience of the students by placing them in the middle of a small world designed for creative and expansive endeavors. The interplay of outside green spaces, courtyards, and the inside basked in natural light, aims to create a dynamic flow of space and views, creating not only a physical relationship between the individual functional units for both the revitalized spaces of the existing buildings and the new proposed ones, but also a visual and sensorial connection that one can experience throughout the day.

The key idea found at the core of the architectural design process, resides in the sequential interplay of both interior and exterior spaces, linked together in a dynamic layout pivoting around the existing building. Starting from the necessity of extending the current functional scheme with new spaces designed to adapt and cover ever-changing needs, the architectural concept is focused on creating a new spatial hierarchy that becomes mandatory with the prospect of a whole new array of activities that is introduced.

The goal of these new spaces is to stimulate the interaction between students and thus, to enhance their learning experience. Besides the remodeling of the existing functional units of the highschool, the design encompasses spaces like a school canteen, recreation and study areas, a library and a fully equipped, multifunctional sports hall. In the endeavour to create an enriching sequence of spaces, the natural topography of the site is persevered and the proposed extension is conceived as a hovering slender volume connected to the redesigned existing building. Therefore the interior courtyard space becomes a lush green space, framed by transparent layers that create a visual and sensorial connection between inside and outside.

The north building currently lacks a proper indoor sports facility. Upon considering such an extension, it became apparent that its envelope would be in dissonance with that of the now refurbished old volume, by the sheer nature of the difference in function. It is therefore reasonable to detach the sports facility volume. A third volume is required to allow all the elements to start forming a composition. Considering that any two points inside the volume must allow connection via an exclusively indoor route, the third volume shall intersect both detached volumes. By developing this third element only at the ground level and not aligning the faces of any two intersected volumes, each element retains its own envelope expression without undermining the other ones.

While the old volume fits the compartimentalised nature of education and administration spaces, the canteen and other open-space facilities are well hosted by the new ground floor volume.

This step-by-step conception of the masses starting from a volume already well-established in the modernist urban fabric of the neighbourhood, suggests the dialogue of the proposed masses with the existing built volumes. As to the interstitial space between newly built and formerly built, the neighbourhood outdoors and the school premises blend together into an accessible and walkable area with green spaces.

The designed structure has a mixed structure with reinforced concrete and steel columns and beams and reinforced concrete slabs. From the resistance point of view, following the checks carried out, the designed structure meets the conditions of resistance and stability and complies with the design codes in force.

The designed structure is independent from the existing structure, they are separated by seismic joints according to the norms. The new structures have reinforced concrete and steel columns and beams and reinforced concrete slabs. From the resistance point of view, following the checks carried out, the designed structure meets the conditions of resistance and stability and complies with the design codes in force.

The neighborhood of which the intervention is a part follows the characteristics of the high-rise housing plan where an important role is played by the large areas of green spaces. Currently, the garages and parking zones arranged along the narrow alleys create extended areas of asphalt, so in order to obtain a higher percentage of the green spaces, has been proposed reconfiguration of the residential parking zones in a way that made traffic more efficient.

Along the Băișoara alley, a series of perspective ends resulting from the pozition of the buildings can be identified, this specific characteristic of the alley was taken over by the interventions on the two volumes.

The buildings of the ansamble are placed along two main directions depending on the configuration of the alleys. Near the schools, the street frontage is discontinuous, the buildings being set back from each other following the line of the alley.

The proposed intervention takes into account these two characteristics of the studied area, taking over the urban front line and the volumetric development in the two directions in order to obtain a good fit in the existing context.

Currently, the access to the school is achieved by means of carriageable and pedestrian alleys along which garages or parking spaces are set up, which make it difficult for pedestrian traffic. In order to obtain a good circulation, reconfiguration of the existing alleys was proposed to be able to create bicycle trails, sidewalks and to make possible the access of school buses.

Within the studied  area, in the vicinity of the Lucian Blaga School, buildings with the function of collective housing predominate. These determine the appearance of functions such as school, commercial space, health and parking in the immediate vicinity of the complex, along Băișoara alley.

The shape of the building that preserves a symmetry of the circulation spaces leads to a disfunctional arrangement of the spaces and thus the need for reorganization and expansion appears starting from the access area.

The functional needs regarding the extension of existing building lead to an arrangement of the new wing on the south side of the building in order to occupy the land more efficiently.

The ideea of connection with the urban space relies on the use of the portico as  typical element that is recurent in the built environment of the city of Cluj-Napoca.

Aiming to reach nearly zero-emission buildings and find the most sustainable materials, the concept of the building enlights the possibility of using fiber cement panels.

This way, we reach to a compliant cladding solution that is designed and manufactured to maximise the circular potential.