Celtnieks’ master’s thesis, entitled Relief School of Philadelphia, concentrates on providing temporary school rooms for the Julia R. Masterman School in Philadelphia, which was built in the 1950’s. As the building is a popular magnet school, it is overcrowded and in desperate need of a serious renovation. During the renovation, the students will need to be placed elsewhere so they can continue their eduction. Celtnieks’ solution is to build a temporary school near the existing school made out of prefabricated components that can easily be disassembled when the renovation is complete. This temporary school could then be used while another school is undergoing renovations.
The temporary school would be located on an empty lot near the existing school and would be elevated off the ground on a foundation of stilts. The school could even bridge over an existing roadway if more space is necessary. Prefabricated components would be used to construct a three-story building topped with an accordion-style translucent tent roof. The exterior is a tight envelope of multi-colored polycarbonate panels that allow daylight to flood in.
Inside, a cathedral-style atrium in the center holds the main corridors and staircases and pulls more light into the building while offering views of the old school as it is renovated. A tent roof overhangs the entire building to provide shade when the sun is high and let in winter light for more warmth. Additionally, the roof collects rainwater for irrigation of indoor plants and a geothermal heat pump helps heat and cool the building.
Relief School of Philadelphia was recently named the winner of GRAPHISOFT’s Architects Jury 2010 competition. As Celtnieks says about the project, “A structure with the ability to be disassembled has an infinite life cycle and fosters a positive environment for the educational and surrounding community… The end goal in rethinking the standard modular classrooms is to promote the renovation of historic schools, while making the transition period a positive experience for students and faculty.”
Images © Kristopher Celtnieks