In the Czech village of Psáry, SOA Architekti have realized a spacious campus featuring a primary school and community centre. They have designed a small-scale ensemble that meets passive-energy standards, joins learning clusters and various educational spaces in a modern didactive landscape and creates a new meeting point from which the entire village, old and young alike, can benefit.
The architects adapted the scale of this school building to the smaller built environment of this village located south of Prague. Instead of a monumental building, they developed four two-storey structures with saddle roofs. On the outside, these structures present themselves in sleek white with perforated façades. The individual volumes face each other in L-shaped arrangements and are brought together at their centre by a large tract with a flat roof. The faces of this wing are all clad with narrow, vertical pinewood slats. The slats continue in front of the windows as well; depending on the interior function, they offer variable views to the inside and outdoors. The slope of the land means that the structures have been dug into the earth at various depths. The outdoor areas are also divided and zoned by this slight gradient; they serve as schoolyard, sports field and an extension of the classrooms.
The refectory forms the heart of the primary school. It is located in the low building that links the individual campus structures and represents not only the central meeting place of the school, but the main entrance as well. The lobby area has two storeys and appears bright and airy. Directly beside it, there is a small gymnasium. Thanks to a clever floor-plan solution and sliding walls, these two zones can be transformed into a large, connected auditorium.
All the spaces in the school building rely on an open design concept that includes dynamic learning areas, flexible partition walls and communal seating steps. The individual wings are organized in clusters, each of which comprises two to three classes. Each cluster has its own colour identity that will facilitate orientation for the children. Along with these colourful accents, wood dominates the interior and provides a feeling of warmth and comfort in the form of built-in fittings, surface cladding and window benches.
The construction of the ensemble is based on reinforced concrete and wood. The exterior and interior walls are finished with sand-lime brickwork. By means of night-time cooling, heat pumps and rainwater use, SOA Architekti have made this building into one of the Czech Republic’s few public buildings that meets passive-energy standards. The primary school is a model project that convinces not only with its modern, functional design, but with its sustainability.