Innovative bioclimatic European School Complex in Voutes, Crete (Greece)

Honorable Mention

C O N C E P T I O N and P L A N N I N G

The urban layout of the International School is structurally modelled on the typical Cretan village centre. In accordance with this, the spatial limits of the buildings, concurrent with the topographic edge of the auditorium, form a central square, namely the school yard. This will be made accessible via a network of small streets and lanes. The main entrance is effected by way of the central lane from the access road where the school bus stop is situated.

The complete school zone will be surrounded by a green belt developed out of the existing olive bowery. The strict, geometrical basic structure of the olive-tree culture will be compacted in such a way that a protective green belt encircles the Learning Village. The outer playing fields will cut into the green zone of the sports area.

Together with the protective belt of trees and the village-like buildings, an urban, self-contained 'landscape island' will emerge that creates its own cosmos in its interior.

Another important design criterion is the inclusion of the area's topographical situation. Bearing in mind that the buildings range down the slope in dependence on their floor-level status, they are to be integrated in a well-balanced way. The highest building will thus occupy the deepest part of the trough, while the single-storey nursery will be positioned on the incline above.

The topographical situation will also be taken into consideration when forming the outer areas. Following the contour lines, a school yard emerges on the downward gradient, its limits set by the school buildings and the steep drop of the breaking edge. The auditorium will be worked into this natural break with steps that can also be used as seating.

By including the surroundings to hand, both building-structure and utilisation are woven into the natural environment and this site in particular.

B I O C L I M A T I C   E N E R G Y   C O N C E P T

The principle aim of the energy and climatic concept for the European School Complex in Crete is to create optimal environmental conditions with a minimal energy demand based on passive strategies.

This is achieved in three steps: reducing the energy demand as much as possible, meeting remaining demands with high-performance, building-integrated systems and providing those systems with as many renewable sources as possible.

The environmental concept for the School was therefore tailored to the specific demands of such a building. The local climatic conditions, such as wind and sun, provided the basis for the architectural design. The buildings will deflect the warm north-eastern winds from the courtyards, providing sheltered outdoor areas. At the same time, the courtyards will serve additionally as 'green lungs' providing daylight to the surrounding rooms. Wind and sun are used to support the exhaust air by creating a suction effect at the top of the solar chimneys. Ground energy will be used to pre-cool or pre-heat the fresh air. The ground earth-duct will supply fresh air to the class rooms by utilising the principle of highly-convenient displacement ventilation. The exhaust air will be extracted through the solar chimneys, which serve as a “sun-and-wind- driven fan”. This passive strategy will be used for both natural ventilation during the day and to extract heat from the massive ceilings during the night ( night purge ). The fresh air will be absorbed into the class rooms from the 'green-lung' courtyards. The local micro-climate created here by trees and shade will be beneficial by providing cooler ambient conditions. The cooler air will thus be used for natural ventilation via the earth-duct. Manually-operable windows in each room enable the fresh air rate to be under individual control, thus creating highly-comfortable spaces.

For very cold periods, the solar hot-water system is used in combination with a waste-heat connection from the hospital nearby. The solar hot-water system also provides hot water for the kitchen.