The Gymnasium and Lyceum Building Complex of the Ziridis private school at Spata Attica.
As the complex was outside the city limits, 2 storey buildings with basement were only allowed with strict 8.5 m height. Given high ceiling requirements for classrooms & relevant regulations & restrictive functional specifications elaborated after success in competition, the program was dense. A low-budget requirement due to the large scale construction site, was also a given.
Developing for the first time in a private school in Greece, a widely spread campus with a relaxing academic environment with an emphasis on human scale and soothing isolation in direct contact with Attica Nature was the challenge met by the architect. Furthermore, conceptually developing a hierarchically arranged environment with layers of activities on the inclined plot, from spiritual to artistic- intellectual to earthly and practical, was an additional challenge met most successfully in the original prototypical design. (see overview of the project).
The concept for the design of the buildings, most appropriate to young occupants of the space both from a symbolic and a practical perspective, involved abstracted classical simplicity with well-studied proportions, natural materials and forms symbolically familiar and relaxing, most suitable to an academic environment for young children, isolated with carefully planned plantings from the outside environment, in direct relationship with the soothing nature of the Attica landscape. More specifically, volumes corresponding to a single classroom & separate roofs individual for each classroom, two-storey low-height volumes bearing traditional windows with separated panes, wood pergolas on columns of solid brickwork, elimination of uniformity with each classroom identifiable, all design elements easily measurable against the human body and thus reassuringly consistent with the soothing notion of human scale. Natural materials such as solid bricks, plaster, flowers planted in both storeys, planting facilities, private gardens for most ground-floor classrooms, variety in windows, classical symmetry with simple details in volumes and elevations were most intentional choices by the architect in this project. Rationally organized plans, an open building complex suitable to the Attica weather & classical Greek tradition and life in the open. A ‘Campus’ most suitable for life in Greece, in Nature.
The smaller administration and laboratory buildings, were most consistent with human scale and with very precise functional and aesthetic importance at the periphery of the building complex at this level. It is thus most unfortunate that they were not implemented for economic reasons. Instead an additional basement level was ordered in most of the main buildings very late in the process, while construction was about to commence. The economic advisors of the owners at this point offered one-sided advice, which was quite contrary to the original idea of a widely spread campus that the designer had proposed and the owner had initially accepted enthusiastically during the competition, permit, and main construction documentation phase. The compromise of the project in this respect was quite unfortunate, sending students to less favourable spaces, eliminating ground floor classroom gardens within pergolas, and not implementing complementing buildings that were most suitable for particular uses, such as the nursery school.