Location: Hungary, Budapest, 3. district, Kiscelli str. 78-82.
Client: AKG - Alternative Secondary School of Economics, financially independent school, operates in the form of a foundation
Interior architects: FLÓ Architects: Linda Csővári, Ágota Demeter, collages: Sára Levendel, Sandra Sztevanovity, Zsófia Szentirmai, Zita Csaba
Photo credit: Zsolt Batár
Scale: Primary school: netto 3000 m2- secondary school: additional netto 1800 m2
Realization: Primary school: Sept 2018
AKG after 32 years operation of a successful secondary school decided to open a primary school. It started as a community planning project with volunteers - teachers, parents, architects, economists, lawyers, most of them were already involved in the institution.
AKG represents an alternative educational program, the new project based on these values.
The first task was to find a location which is close to the AKG secondary school. The chosen building was designed by Kálmán Reichl in 1910-12. It was originally kindergarten and elementary school, after being owned by a university.
At the beginning FBIS architect was part of the design team, they prepared the architectural concept, our team continued the execution plans according to their proposal
The five-storey building had to accommodate 6 + 7 classes, with the aim that after 6th years, children could continue in the same building their secondary school studies in the educational structure of AKG.
The primary school started with two classes of 24 children per grade in September 2018, with five grades at the start.
In each class are 3 accompanying educators, which gives the opportunity to study in groups of eights, giving students more attention, allowing the pupil to develop at their own individual pace of progress. There are no bells, the review is in writing, the teachers organize the rhythm of the study time. The school defines itself as “almost a school”, where the focus is on acquisition of competencies necessary for future well-being: community-group thinking, critical thinking skills, constructive use of information, self path of learning of the individuals.
Pairing the age shift of classes was a conscious educational need. The first grade is located next to the third grade and the second grade is next to the fourth grade, supporting the positive pattern of the mixed age group teaching method.
Main tasks of designing
The transformation of the 110 years old building required renovation, new staircases between the separated and blocked levels, and new functional layout according to the educational needs like cooking kitchen.
The integration of the mezzanine level in the building became possible with an additional staircase. Originally, this level was accessible only from the ground floor with a separate entrance and had an exit to the inner courtyard, it was not connected to any level of the building, it operated as an independent kindergarten. The new vertical bindings made it possible to walk around the building.
The idea of recessing the level of the main entrance staircase was based on the opportunity of the future extension of the entrance hall, where arrival could play a bigger role, and the basement spaces could get more light. The old mezzanine entrance was replaced by a two-armed internal staircase and a porter.
On the ground floor there is a restaurant and kitchen, a creative workshop for cooking and artistic activities, the existing gym and an exercise room with the related functions - dressing room and shower, gymnastics teacher and teacher changing room, shower, storage . There are two direct exits to the inner courtyard from the workshop and the restaurant.
The two main, classic staircases from the ground floor were not connected to the mezzanine level, the mezzanine level got a new staircase from the first floor.
At the mezzanine level are the gym’s additional girl’s locker room with shower, four classrooms with gallery for fifth and sixth graders, sensory integration and movement rooms, medical and administrative offices, and workshop for educators.
On the first level are eight classrooms with a gallery and a large, open hall, which is a multifunctional space /book corner, theater/, an internal playground. Restrooms were refurbished and the layout was rationalized, new restrooms were added on the ground floor and mezzanine level.
On the second and third floor begins the area of the secondary school, which was not realized according to the interior design concept plan, it was finalized by AKG teachers in the mood of secondary school in Raktár street. On the second level there are four micro-schools. It consists of two classrooms, a faculty room, a teacher’s room and a communal space with a kitchenette, which represents a small school as a home separated by a door. On the third floor there are specialized classrooms: science laboratory, art room.
- use of materials
New stairs were designed by artificial stone as a continuation of the classic original stone staircases, but in anthracite colour as well as the new additional fire walls. The custom built-in furniture was designed from plywood, with a semi-gloss lacquer surface treatment, over time, due to cost-effectiveness, the birch plywood (door linings, creative workshop) was realized only in the high demanding spaces and the rest was replaced with birch-laminated furniture.
Anyone who has been to AKG is well aware that one of the characteristics of these interiors is the carpeted corridors. Given that in this case we designed not only for high school students, but also for small children, it was important to choose a cover that is not allergenic, easy to clean, you do not have to constantly change shoes if a child steps on muddy feet, but still has a warm enough surface, to crawl, to climb on it. That's how the choice came for the rubber cover.
We made the new structural and technical elements distinguishable from the old ones like the new stairs, the new water blocks and the smoke-free staircase doors were given an anthracite gray colour.
The glazed ceramic wall cladding of the water blocks varies from level to level. The ground floor is turquoise, the mezzanine is dark blue, the first floor is olive green. It was important to us that the colors that appeared in space did not want to dominate the world created by the children. We have designed cork wall coverings where children can expose their paintings and drawings, thus enriching their own world to progress.
The classrooms were painted light gray all over the surface, including the ceiling. In the classrooms, anthracite gray, light gray, yellow and birch returns in the furniture.
We designed yellow rubber flooring in the 1’st floor corridors and light gray in the classrooms. The thresholds have been removed.
We consulted with the educators about the use of space in several rounds, we helped them with questions so that they could formulate their space needs and we could clarify the design task. How do different ages move in the building? Where are the shoes, bags, coats stored? Do children need a locker?
Classrooms and community spaces have been a top priority. Each classroom has a 12 m2 gallery where children can peek in and read. They can go up on the floor mat of the gallery without shoes, thus strengthening the coziness and liberation. In the classrooms, each child has a small personal locker - non-lockable, and additional storage cabinets for the equipment. In addition, there is a kitchenette with a sink, so children have the opportunity to make tea, paint and water plants in their own classroom.
Each classroom is equipped with a chair and table for each according to its age group. The tables are movable and stackable, rectangular and trapezoidal in shape, helping the group sessions with easy rearrangement and flexible use of space. There is black board paint in the lower classrooms and white smart wall paint in the upper classrooms both magnetic.
The corridors are the extended common areas of the classrooms, with custom made furniture for shoes, jackets, bags, where the sound-absorbing, upholstered houses are offering an opportunity to relax in the muffled noise. In the fifth and sixth grades, we took into account that the kids are bigger already, they like to sit on the bench with their legs up, so we designed the benches deeper. At their corridors the tables are movable that allows teamwork and flexible usage.
Custom furniture was also made for the hall space and the creative workshop. In the hall there is a stepped bench covered with carpet, which runs longitudinally to the parapet and is divided by climbing towers. Sliding, upholstered houses were part of the original concept, which has not yet materialized. We designed unique steel-framed workshop tables and kitchen furniture for the creative workshop.
In fact, due to time constraints, after the concept plan was prepared, the demolition and construction plans were prepared in parallel with the construction, which made the work significantly more difficult. Construction began half a year before the handover. Several contractors and project coordinators appeared and then quit the project. This period was characterized by a lot of on-site consultation, quick decision-making and adaptability.
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