Architecture firm XTOPIX has won first prize in an architectural competition for the design of Komořany Elementary School in Prague. The school utilizes green roofs, rainwater capture and recycled materials to build a unique facility that follows the grade of a sloping property in a natural area.
The engineering of the new school building was handled by AED, with landscape done by Land05. Landscaping was important in this school’s layout because the building follows a northern sloping plot adjacent to a forest at the edge of Prague. “We perceive the plot as a connecting transition between the forest and the new public infrastructure,” the designers said, “a transition between the wild and the cultivated.” The structure follows the slope of the plot, connecting floors of the building to the corresponding height levels of the surrounding terrain and nearby streets.
“Three volumes with the same footprint are set on top of each other, cascading towards the forest and therefore creating the residential roofs,” XTOPIX stated. “We place the school as close to the eastern edge of the plot as possible. Towards the northwest, we create a recessed entrance corner. By doing so we define the gathering place under the oaks for pupils – a school piazzetta made of coloured permeable concrete, which allows chalk drawing and children’s games.”
At the site’s western border, the architects created a green strip with a school garden. Inside the lobby on the main floor, there are various levels of planted spaces. The highest part of the school is closest to the forest and contains classrooms and sports facilities. This area has a separate entrance near a series of green roofs atop the school. Even the sports field and gymnasiums are located on a grade with one above the other.
The architects used recycled plastic KLP panels for the building facade, which is maintenance-free and recyclable. Another building material is of Czech invention and called Rebeton. It’s a recycled concrete that uses building rubble and nano-mixtures instead of natural aggregate. Another sustainable element, rainwater management, supports the drainage of the sloping property to a nearby stream.
“The landscape is conceptually designed to contrast between the natural area around the school and on the rooftops with the urban character of the entry area,” the designers said. “Komořany is located on the border between the open countryside and the city, where the forest is the greatest natural feature of the area…In terms of species, we work with the natural vegetation of oak groves, which represent domestic oaks, hornbeams and babyka maple.”
Visualizations by Jan Drška