Center of Memory and Culture
Christos Georgios Kritikos
The proposal for the "D. Daskalopoulos Arts Building" opens a new chapter for the historic campus of the Hellenic American Educational Foundation. The building will be integrated in an architecturally diverse environment, hosting a new discrete educational function. A spatial condition of permeable boundaries will be formed, framing a source of artistic creation and dissemination in the educational institution.
A seemingly monolithic building invites observers through its openings to be introduced to the world of arts, to evolve within its protected environment, but also to be creatively exposed to the wider society. The educational spaces are articulated around a multi-level atrium, connected to multiple outdoor and semi-outdoor paths. These interior pathways function as part of the pre-existing network of unpaved trails that define the movements in the natural landscape of the campus. The building thus establishes a dual relationship with its environment, being an organic part of it but also functioning as an autonomous enclave of expressive experimentation and creation.
Situating artistic expression in an educational environment
"How can you bring a classroom to life as though if it were an artwork?"is one of the questions posed by Guattari as he explored the ways in which art and aesthetics can penetrate existing fabrics and structures. The same question can be asked in different ways in the field of architecture, in terms of the ways designed spaces can house various expressions of art and their respective creative processes.
The design of an educational center dedicated to the Arts, especially when it addresses secondary education, is requested to achieve the special balance between a functional spatial frameworkand an appropriable spatial condition. It is requested to produce spaces where the expressive development of students in the formative years of adolescence will be hosted, where practice will be encouraged embracing failure as a necessary part of it, where personal and collective boundaries will be overcome, all the while providing the appropriate sense of security that will encourage the creative contemplation involved in the artistic process. It is therefore called to provide the grid, but also to promote the unhindered unravelling of different paths.
The "D. Daskalopoulos Arts Building" is going to house the courses of Visual Arts, Dance, Music, Theatre and Film of the "International Baccalaureate Diploma Program", but it will also be able to host the artistic education, experimentation and expression of all students of secondary education in the Athens College and the Psychiko College. Among the many and important buildings of educational, sports and cultural activities, the proposed building will acquire a very important role for students who will be enriching their curricula through artistic education. The introduction of the Arts in the educational context of 'STEM' (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), i.e. the educational interaction between the Positive Sciences and the Arts that recently included the A (Arts) in the modern 'STEAM' education system, is now considered integral in the ever-evolving framework of school curricula. In the same way, the inclusion of the proposed building in the school campus will signal the growing importance of art courses in all educational programs of the Hellenic American Educational Foundation.
In describing such a space, one may wonder if Bourriaud had artistic education in mind when he described his vision of works of art functioning as ‘social interstices’. For him, «An interstice is a space in social relations which, although it fits more or less harmoniously and openly into the overall system, suggests possibilities for exchanges other than those that prevail within the system».Thus, we envision a space within a school campus, where artistic educational activities will provide a field for the creative co-formation of students and teachers alike - a space where, especially through student exhibitions, will give the recipients of education a chance to express themselves, addressing both their school environment and society as a whole.
A monastery of permeable boundaries
The fact that the proposed building is planned to open up to the artistic world and to the wider Hellenic American Educational Foundation community, underlines its special significance among the other buildings of the school campus. The central position of the building, both metaphorically and literally (given its proximity to the Main Gate), turns it into an extended threshold, in which the protected school environment will be meeting with the wider society. Therefore, its communicational function needs to be accentuated, without however undermining the sense of security that it should provide to its young users.
Based on the above, the symbolic connotations and the unique spatial conditions of the cenobitic monastery, a protected space where endoscopic contemplation meets the fermentation of ideas and knowledge, was deemed as a suitable source of architectural inspiration. All educational spaces, workshops and outdoor spaces will be enclosed within the building boundaries, which will be permeable at different points and levels. Drawing from various monastic structures, the proposed building will give the impression of an enclosed space, harmoniously integrated into its environment, a building whose distinct function will be architecturally expressed, inviting individuals to enter it and interact with its users within its protective boundaries. Its central location in the campus render it an intersection of various pathways and routes, but the enclosure of its spaces will provide a sense of 'controlled exposure' that is deemed necessary in places of artistic practice. Within its walls, the fields of Visual Arts, Dance, Music, Theatre and Film will be conquered by students, while also functioning as tools of communication with the entire educational community.
A recent scientific paper by Mette Birkedal Bruun titled "A Solitude of Permeable Boundaries: The Abbey of La Trappe between Isolation and Engagement" explores the ambiguous role that a monastery may have as a space for the preservation, production and dissemination of knowledge. Imagining a place that will create the aforementioned feeling of safety for students to be introduced to a world of artistic pursuits, as well as a place that will promote extrovert artistic expression, we believe that the concept of the permeable monastery can provide the desired spatial condition.
If we agree that "Monastic life exposes the monk, but it gives him cover too"the choice of studying in "D. Daskalopoulos Arts Building" will provide the framework for students to dedicate themselves to the challenges of the artistic process, providing both a protected space for creative contemplation and a setting for exhibiting the results of their apprenticeships.
Returning to a forty year old text through which Tzonis & Lefaivre tried to describe the importance of combining the grid with the pathway in some architectural works in Greece, we re-interpret their relationship and envision a building that emerges as an intersection of different paths, organizing and protecting their convergence. Within the "D. Daskalopoulos Arts Building" and through its educational framework, the students will create their own paths, which will define their first post-school steps.
First Floor Plan
Second Floor Plan
Passive and Active Energy Systems