Randvere Elementary School, 2005

Total floor area 8340m².

According to the initial task of architectural competition for Randvere elementary school in Viimsi, North-Estonia, the building was to be designed for 300 students with a possibility to add a later extension for another 150 students. In addition to that, main hall, library, computer classes and sports facilities were to be displaced in a way, that they could be used indipendently without entering into the rest of the school’s facilities.

Architecture.

Architecture of the school departs from existing surroundings of the site and from estimated future developments of the closest neighborhoods of the area. There is a 2 storeyed residential neighborhood built about 25 years ago to the south and east of the site, with facades mostly in wood, stucco or brick. There are large forests to the west and north of the school site. A new residential development north-east of the site allows for up to 2 storeyed buildings with 15-30° roof slopes.

Thus the school has a shallow 15° pithed roof. Base is made of exposed concrete or limestone. Facades are plastered and covered with olive green paint. The corners and parts of the facade under the windows are covered with wooden boards and painted in light blue. Facade under the eaves and above the windows is covered with white plywood. Posts between the windows are of solid wood, which will turn part of the facade into a large glass screen. Rafters and other roof details have been exposed in order to demonstrate the structure of the building. Roof is covered with metal. Roof above the gallery in front of the main entrance is of glass panels.

Plan.

Entire building is divided into three functionally different but logistically closely connected blocks.
A block incorporates tha main entrance, hall, library, cafeteria/dining hall, and rooms for school’s administration and it is situated in the central part of the complex.

The main entrance is placed on the north-south axis of the central part of the building, and opens the northern side of the south looking entrance court which is closed from the west, north and east. The library is situated partly on two floors and the computer facilities form the western side of the entrance court. The eastern side of the entrance court is defined by the great hall. Upon entering one gets to the main entrance hall which has part of a ceiling opened to the first floor and pavement in front of the main stairs made of thick smoke glass.

The roof above the main entrance hall on the first floor is made of glass panels, which provide plenty of natural light. Right before reaching the main stairs, one passes the 4m wide central corridor – a longitudinal axis that runs the whole lenght of the complex.

The glass floor and double height entrance hall stress the intersection of the north-south and east-west axis and turn the central part of the school both physically and mentally a multi-level centre.

The “lighthouse”.

Longitudinal corridor is running from the west to east and is orientated on the spire of the local church. Eastern end of the corridor is defined by a clock tower or a “lighthouse of knowledge” which becomes a focal point of not only the B block but conceptual center of the entire school. Eastern and southern facades of the ”lighthouse” incorporate two glass panelled clocks.
The roof of the “lighthouse“ is covered with glass or panels saving solar energy. The upper part of the tower behind the two great clocks will be illuminated in the darkness. So the tower terminates an eastern end of the long central corridor pointing at the church spire and becomes thus a link between the religious and rational worlds, a source of physical and spiritual light and constant reminder of moving time…

We believe that such a conceptual link with surrounding environment – a direct quote to a still active church which initially was a center of the one-time fishermen village – helps to build stronger bonds between a new school and the roots of the village and prevents abstract anonymity of new developments.

B block with classrooms in the eastern part of the complex consists of two perpendicular wings which have been turned in order to provide required orientation of classrooms.

There is a courtyard protected from northern and western winds between the two wings. The two other sides of the courtyard are defined by pergolas, similarily to those at the main entrance, supported by tree trunks. In the middle of the courtyard there should be a globe made of stone or metal.

Courtyard for the smallest and “the tree of knowledge”.

There is another smaller courtyard between the west wing of B block and the great hall which is closed by the glass wall of the gallery between A and B block from the north. The courtyuard is closed by low hedge from the south and provides a separate entrance for the students of elementary classes. In the center of this small courtyard there is a symbolic “tree of the knowledge”.

C block or more accurately the foyer of the gymnasium ends the central corridor to the west. The view from inside continues through the foyer and over the large forests rising west of the site. Ground floor od the C block contains the gymnasium and auxiliary premises. Other sports facilities and dressing rooms are in the basement.

Indipendent use of different parts of the building.

There is a glass gallery before the main foyer. This enables to use the hall and library without entering the school. The hall can also be used with cafe and wardrobe on the ground floor independently from the rest of the building. C block can also be used separately by entering directly from the street

Future enlargement.

Perspective enlargement can be carried out by adding a two storeyed wing behind the northern part of the B block. Entrance to this part will be through the foyer in the B block on both floors.

Different entrances.

Since most of the students arrive from the east, the entrance under the tower of the “lighthouse” can be used in addition to the main entrance. Elementary school students have their own entrance but can also use the main one.

Movement of disabled people.

Disabled students or visitors can enter the building through every entrance. Elevator 1 between A and C blocks is essential for disabled access to every floor. It serves the basement, ground and first floor of block A and basement, gymnasium and spectator’s level in block C.

The project includes another elevator for disabled people in the foyer of B block, but it can be omitted. In this case elevator 1 must be used for getting to the first floor in the B block.

Wardrobes.

Wardrobe required by the programme is in the main vestibule, but its main function is to serve visitors of the library and hall.

We prefer the solution where the main wardrobe is situated in the basement in block A. Students enter the wardrobe by two flanking staircases descending on both sides of the main foyer. Each class will have its own wardrobe space with lockers for clothes and books in the basement. Students proceed to the classrooms via staircases between A ands C blocks and between A and B blocks. This kind of wardrobe location will reduce the maintenance need for upper floors and will provide the movement of students only in one direction in the mornings’ rush hours.

Elementary classes have spaces for clothes close to their “home” classrooms.

©2015 Arhitektibüroo Allan Strus OÜ

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