The Children of Armenia Fund (COAF) recently completed its flagship COAF SMART Center, a state-of-the-art facility that will empower Armenia’s rural communities through locally and globally relevant knowledge and technologies. Designed by Beirut-based architecture firm Paul Kaloustian Studio, the innovative campus features a contemporary and sculptural form powered with clean energy. Opened May 2018, the first COAF SMART Center is nestled in the rural hills of Armenia’s northern province of Lori.
Designed to advance COAF’s goals of rural revitalization, the COAF SMART Center serves as a platform for connecting villages to resources in education, health, arts and sciences and renewable energy. Covering a built area of 5,000 square meters, the large campus is nonetheless dwarfed by the beautiful highland landscape and purposefully defers to its surroundings with a sinuous, single-story form that follows the natural terrain. Full-height glazing wraps around the structure to blur the boundary between indoors and out.
As the flagship SMART Center campus, the building encompasses sustainable and green design principles that will be applied to all future SMART campuses as well. Powered with solar energy, the building comprises classrooms, health posts, studios, computer lounges, meeting rooms, a multipurpose auditorium, libraries, restaurants and other flexible spaces both indoors and out. The regional education hub will offer a rich curriculum spanning topics from blockchain technology and robotics to agriculture and linguistics.
“Targeting the rural regions, these campuses will respect the integrity of rural aesthetics in sync with contemporary architectural design, maintaining the authenticity of the region, while encouraging progressive ideology,” the architecture firm said. “The contradictive play of scale between landscape and building blurs all the visual boundaries. The blend becomes an essential architectural language meant to erase the traces of architecture from the landscape and in return the landscape adopts the architecture as an extension of itself.”
Photography by Ieva Saudargaite and Paul Kaloustian Studio via Paul Kaloustian Studio