This primary school designed for 828 pupils is the first modern school that was built from scratch in Vilnius in the 20 years since Lithuania’s independence. As the surrounding urban fabric has no cohesive urban concept, the new school was intended to give the area an unequivocal focal point. It is also intended to serve a broader function for the wider community after school hours and over weekends.
The building structure is like a chequerboard arrangement of simple, two and three-storeyed rectangular volumes and patios. The classrooms are located in the eastern part of the complex. Each two storey volume is ‘inhabitated’ by children of a particular age, and each age group has its own enclosed courtyard. Two- and three-storey volumes on the western side contain rooms for administration and public use: laboratories, workshops, art studios, a sports hall, and a multi-purpose hall, used daily as a refectory and easily transformed into a space for cultural events and meetings.
The design of school interior is based on Lithuanian ethno-motives. Every color that was used in the school has different mythological meanings. The ancient symbols are used everywhere in the school. The predominant dark grey colour, sharp lines, bare concrete, steel and glass in common spaces has the feel of order and reason. Blocks of red, yellow and blue in the flooring, walls and furniture inject a touch of liveliness. Colourful floorings of corridors and recreation areas are connected with patterns on the exterior. Predominant colours in every two-storeyed class helps pupils to orientate.
The interior finishes concept is to expose and exploit the maximum content of natural high quality concrete surfaces and also fragmental artificial-ecological materials. The walls of recreation areas are coloured clay blocks with their natural texture. Finishing of sports halls is based on larch wood and ecological wood-cement acoustic tile surfaces. Colourful PVC flooring with satin finishes are used for classes, cabinets and corridors. Architects also created original marking systems for visual information. All furniture was designed for this project specifically but can be used for other schools as well.
Project: School in Balsiai
Location: Vilnius, Lithuania
Architects: Sigitas Kuncevičius Architecture Studio, Vilnius, Lithuania
Technical info: PVC flooring
Picture credits: Raimondas Urbakavičius
Website: www. asa-arch.lt