Photo: Canava Renders

New School Losbates

Annotation
The site is located between the forest and the village, and this relationship defines our approach to the project. The main school building is composed of four staggered and stepped volumes. These volumes are organised according to the buildings functions. It’s has a clear and legible organisational strategy and a simple, efficient, programme-data-driven concept. This creates a building designed using a diagrammatic ‘programme box’ relationship that is translated into the building forms. There is a clear and distinct understanding of how the building works simply by looking at it.
The main entrance hall volume separates the secondary school from the primary/pre-prep school. It contains the auditorium and the island kitchen, which are introduced as self-standing volumes inside the main entrance hall. To the left, the secondary school is organised on two floors. Its staircase is located in the double height atrium with a skylight above. There is a sunken courtyard adjacent to the atrium. To the right the low-level single storey primary school is organised around a generous courtyard play- space, which is dedicated solely to the younger students.
As suggested in the brief, a new access road is proposed, which turns to the North off the Kutnohorska Road, it then links with Soubezna Road before eventually connecting to Zajezdni Street.

Urbanism Description
The site is located between the forest and the village, and this relationship defines our approach to the project. As such, it respects both the semi-urban condition of the site – low height, individual houses - and the forest. The main school building is situated on the North-South axis to the site. It acts as a invitation both to forest and village interaction. It maximises the exposure to the sunlight by its orientation and its volumetric composition. The building elements step back from the main entrance towards the East creating a semi-public plaza in front of the school with the private sports and recreation area behind, towards the forest. The building element volumes also step down towards the South breaking up its bulk and mitigating its impact on the existing village houses. Thus, the lowest volume (one storey) is located on the edge of the village while the tallest volume (Gymnasium) is adjacent to the forest. The buildings rectilinear form creates a very distinct shape, which clearly identifies its function. The flats and the Art school are located in the same building in the South- West corner of the site, thus creating a ’gateway’ entry volume onto the site and acting as a transitional object between the village and the school.
 The existing pedestrian path to the forest remains as existing and is not obstructed in any way by the new building.

Traffic
As suggested in the brief, a new access road is proposed, which turns to the North off the Kutnohorska Road, it then links with Soubezna Road before eventually connecting to Zajezdni Street. It is proposed as a one-way route with a drop-off and a bus stop next to the semi-public plaza. There are three car-parking zones proposed on the site for temporary and permanent parking. Car park 1 (31 cars) is located next to the Flats and the Art school; car park 2 (26 cars) is located on Soubezna Street closer to the main entrance to the building; and car park 3 (60 cars) is located on the northern edge of the site next to the forest and is partly hidden behind the Gymnasium. All three car parks have two disabled car parking spaces. Waste management and access to the track is organised via car park 3 at the far corner of the Gymnasium.

Architecture Description
The main school building is composed of four staggered and stepped volumes. These volumes are organised according to the buildings functions. It’s has a clear and legible organisational strategy and a simple, efficient, programme-data-driven concept. This creates a building designed using a diagrammatic ‘programme box’ relationship that is translated into the building forms. There is a clear and distinct understanding of how the building works simply by looking at it. The tallest volume is located on the edge of the forest and all other volumes step down towards the village in the following order – Gymnasium 9.6m; Secondary school 7.1m (on two levels); Main entrance lobby /Auditorium / Cafeteria 5.6m; Pre-pre and Primary school 4.1m (on one level). All four volumes are linked by means of a straight, 6m wide, circulation spine, which provides for generous circulation but also provides space for extra facilities and activities.

The building facades are designed using singular modular system. Accoya type modified timber fins (ref www.accoya.com) are in-filled with timber panels and/or glass panels. The rhythmic order of the fins is disturbed here and there by exceptions at volume junctions, corners and structural elements. Façade depth creates intimacy and focus for the user. It is an inside-out oriented building. It is perceived as series of solid rectangles with intermittent glimpses of glass depending on the viewing angle. The North- South axis orientation of the building exposes the staggered facades towards the South and its stepped composition emphasises the morning sun on the sports and recreation area.
The main entrance hall volume separates the secondary school from the primary/pre-prep school. It contains the auditorium and the island kitchen, which are introduced as self-standing volumes inside the main entrance hall.
To the left, the secondary school is organised on two floors. Its staircase is located in the double height atrium with a skylight above. There is a sunken courtyard adjacent to the atrium.
To the right the low-level single storey primary school is organised around a generous courtyard play- space, which is dedicated solely to the younger students.


Structural Frame
The architectural proposals lend themselves to a solid timber frame solution or hybrid steel frame / solid timber solution.  In the most technically advanced solution the frame would incorporate the proposed façade in load-bearing capacity.
The use of glued-laminated and cross laminated timber (CLT) as key structural elements for walls and floors of education buildings has been well established in Europe over the past 10 years.  The solid timber structure can be exposed for architectural expression and the speed of construction makes the system one of the most cost effective for education building in Europe.
A hybrid structural solution including the use of steel frames and solid timber is also viable where longer spans are required.
Depending on the ground conditions the most economic foundation solution is in situ reinforced concrete pads and strips.  The timber structure being almost 40% lighter than concrete structures helps achieve this solution.
A recent innovation in the use of exposed CLT is increased Thermal Mass to the soffits through the introduction of various thermal control materials. Using this new research allows for additional comfort cooling of classrooms.
Solid timber (CLT) is easily sourced from several suppliers in Europe including Binder Holz and KLH in Austria.  A number of these manufacturers use timber grown in the Czech Republic.

Facades
Accoya was selected due to its dimensional stability making it possible to achieve an elegant, slim structure having wide fixing points without risk of bending or warping. A traditional stick-system is used with Accoya timber fixed to the façade system.  

Operations and Functionality Description: 2x9 Classes
Access – the main access to the building is organised form the West via a semi-public plaza at the front. School distribution is organised in such a way that all elements of the school can be operate independently.
The circulation spine (6m wide) runs on the North-South axis of the building and connects all parts of school. The spine can be accessed form the main lobby and independently form the both North and South ends.
The main entrance lobby is located in the central volume directly connected to the spine. Waiting area, Auditorium, Cafeteria and Kitchen are located in the central volume, allowing it to operate independently out of school hours.
The Primary school is located on the right from the entrance and operates on one level. Pre-Prep is part of the Primary but can be accessed independently form the plaza drop-off. Pre-prep has its dedicated internal secure courtyard, which also has direct access to the main school playgrounds.
The Secondary school is located on the left of the entrance and operates on two levels. Its main staircase is adjacent to the spine, which can be also used for sitting, gathering and exhibition activities.
The waste management store is located next to the cafeteria kitchen.
Access to the Gymnasium is both form the main circulation spine for school users, but also directly from the public plaza for community users out of school hours.

Future Operations and Functionality Description:  3x9 Classes
The building expansion is organised in such a way that it does not compromise the architectural and operational integrity of the building.
The buildings volumes are deigned to allow for the required expansion towards the East:
The Secondary school expands on the first floor level, creating an outdoor covered space below, which can be used as a recreation veranda.
The Primary school expands on the ground floor towards the East by 9m.
The Cafeteria can be expanded towards the East and island kitchen expands retaining its service capabilities and architectural feature.

This expansion strategy ensures that the main West-facing elevation, the overall building heights and the main circulation spine are not compromised in any way.

Environmental Concept

The weather conditions in Prague are not much different from London so we followed some of the principals we applied at Eton College. Eton College had similar requirement from their fundraisers.

What we are proposing is a ground source heat pump system that will provide heating to the school during winter. In the summer that can be reversed so cooling can also be provided to certain areas like the auditorium, gymnasium, hub rooms, etc. Having a buried insulated water tank will allow the contribution of other renewable energy sources like evaporative cooling through the use of a water fountain and rain water harvesting for top up. The low night time temperatures in the summer in Prague are ideal for the use of this system – all you need is a water fountain which will effectively provide cooling to hub rooms, etc. and it will also be a good story for the students. Rainwater harvesting will be also used for irrigation and grey water. PV panels will provide power supply to the pumps.

With regards to the auditorium, such spaces are better served both in terms of energy use and comfort by displacement ventilation (i.e. 18⁰ C supply air temperature). This will allow the use of 100% outside air (i.e. no refrigeration). The classrooms will be also served by natural ventilation.

Project Details
Status:
Competition
Location:
Losbates, Prague, Czech Republic
Client:
CCEA MOBA
Size:
6323 m²
Budget:
EUR 6 mil
Consultants:
DSA Engineering, Engenuiti
Program:
Pre-Prep, Primary, Secondary, Gymnasium, Auditorium, Art School, Cafeteria, Flats
Team:
Elena Cruz Alcami, Nikoloz Japaride, Davit Tsanava