Academic life intertwines around an absolutely specific space: that of the university building. This space remains unchanged/unaltered for periods much longer than the actual residence of its inhabitants. The university building is intensely registered to the experience and memory of the people who transiently use it, becoming a point of reference for their lives.
The project, situated on an 80,000 m2 site at a sparsely built university campus outside Alexandroupolis near the northeastern border of Greece is a building complex of two interconnected university departments for pedagogical studies. Following the competition brief, the complex comprises of lecture halls, workshops, auditoria, offices, a library, a gymnasium, an amphitheater, a congress hall and a restaurant that add up to approximately 15,000 m2 accommodating 800 students and an equivalent number of tutors and employees.
The size and the diversity of the program, as well as the relative isolation of the building, imply an almost urban condition to the organization and structure of the building. The conception of the school as a micropolis brings forth a spectrum of spatial qualities to be incorporated into the composition and sets a perspective for their articulation and their interconnection. Spaces public and private, intense and slack, gay and serious, slow and fast must coexist forming alterations that respond to and recompose an authentic, both pragmatically and metaphorically, urban terrain.
All workshops, lecture halls, offices, the gymnasium and the library are arrayed along a distinct broken line that slopes down the site forming the rectilinear S shape that is the central design theme. This broken linearity enables the structure to enjoy the organizational neutrality and the climate control of the modernistic linear slab. At the same time, it defines two open 3-sided atria containing the amphitheater, the restaurant, the congress hall and the auditoria, establishing a positive relation to the dynamics of the site (view, entrance, slope, vegetation) and forming two major programmatic nodes as nuclei of public life.
A continuous movement along the rectilinear S becomes the organizational core of the program. This indoors mini-street that is adjacent to or pierces all programmatic units intensifies the perception of the building as a multiple whole, maximizes the probability of encounters and interaction between students and instructors and establishes the spatial terms for the understanding of the university rather as an interconnected multiplicity than as a hierarchically structured system of parts subordinate to each other.
The design is a hybrid of two typologies. The interweaving of the atria with the linear array fuses together the spatial categories into a unique synthetic entity that registers the specific program and site in an attempt to rethink university life and render the complexities, cuts and continuities of an active micropolis.