Bioclimatic School - Crete

  • Location

    Crete, Greece

  • Client

    School Buildings Organisation, SA

  • Team

    Rutherford Harvey Architecture LLP

  • Size

    5,950m² (64,060ft²)
    1-4 storey Kindergarten, Primary & Secondary Schools

Arranged around a central cloistered agora and approached via a grand stair, the school is a celebration of classical design.  Passive and active environmental innovations, together with proven vernacular and modern construction techniques, create a synergy of architecture that learns from the past and looks to the future. 

In response to the environment the school complex is orientated by the cardinal grid with each north, south, east and west point marked as a learning mechanism for the students to understand the direction of the wind and path of the sun, thus growing aware of how their natural environment behaves and impacts upon them.  Crete’s temperate climate allows each individual school to be considered as a series of indoor and outdoor spaces where the circulation and places for gathering form an open-air atrium, protected from the sun by the signature climate roof. 

Drawing from Knossos Temple, the concept for the design of the school looks to the places made by classical and historical architecture for gathering and learning - the agora, the quadrangle, the cloister and the atrium.   Central to the development of the concept is the temperate climate of Crete that allows these communal gathering and circulation spaces to be outdoors.  The classrooms, offices and halls being the only fully enclosed spaces, which are conceived conceptually as branches of an olive tree such that the wind flows naturally around them bringing fresh air and vitality.  The outdoor spaces function as multi-purpose rooms adaptable to the needs of the students, parents, teachers and community.

These outdoor rooms are connected, protected and celebrated through the introduction of a signature climate screen that wraps the individual classroom ‘branches’ together embracing all of the functions of each school.  As a canopy of protective leaves the climate screen allows light and air to flow through animating the central spaces with the changing day and seasons.  The screen is also conceptually considered as the basis of language that permeates and weaves together all written languages - linked dashes and dots.  These icons stem from the first known languages, through to the digital age with universal recognition embraced by all of the world’s cultures - text and punctuation, script and accent, logograms and characters, 0 and 1.......