Vergílio Ferreira Secondary School
Atelier Central, Portugal
Year: 2008 - 2011
Architecture/Coordination: Atelier Central Arquitectos / José Martinez Silva, Miguel Beleza
Collaborators: Fernando Carlota (coordinator architect), Andreia Sá, Cláudia Barata, Cristina Vieira, David Cachucho, Filipe Oliveira and Pedro Rodrigues
Cost: 9.449.383,55 €
Site area: 29 266 sqm
New construction area: 6 458 sqm
Renewed construction area: 10 042 sqm
"In the mid 1970’s, with the Education Basis law approval, the expression “democratization of education” goes from theory to practice. On that fundamental reform law, was established the principle of democratization of education, which “will educate men in liberty and responsibility to serve the common good”.
Law No. 5/73, 25th of July and Democratization of Education, Yesterday’s Dream, Today’s Law, Tomorrow’s Strength, José Veiga Simão, Ministry of National Education, General Secretariat.
It becomes urgent to build school infrastructures that respond to the students upraising in Portugal. Prefabrication, modulation, and repetition are necessary to answer the challenge.
Nowadays we face a new paradigm. Portugal doesn’t need more schools, but better ones. There’s no need to build new schools, the main focus lies on its refurbishment and renovation: improve conditions, enhance thermal insulation of buildings, implement modern infrastructures, space rationalization, increase functional and energy efficiency of the building, and use this opportunity to improve the aesthetic aspects that were not always upheld in the past.
Vergílio Ferreira Secondary School is included in the most common type of democratization of education: The school pavilion.
All of those problems issued above were a concern to this school, adding the fact that it develops in a vast area of about 20.000m², with nine pavilions and a more recent sports hall and library constructed in the 1980’s.
Given the site plans dimension and the morphology of its terrain, the pavilions define between them four distinct levels.
The existing gaps and dispersion of the pavilions in conjunction with the need to ensure accessibility and promote comfort and protection to atmospheric agents, led us to propose new links between the various pavilions, which significantly change the aesthetic perception of the school, like a connection between DNA molecules.
If the pavilions define between them four distinct levels, there’s a fifth one: the main entrance. Thus, one way to streamline all the vertical access to the four blocks, the entrance volume integrates a staircase and elevators to access all different levels. In addition, it allows the creation of an internal square where the interface and community spaces are connected.This block has an opening on the ground floor, faced south. With three free storeys high, it has a considerable volume, rivalling the leadership with examples of questionable quality on its surroundings.
For easier explanation, we chose to identify each of the different volumes separately:
In the central area is located the school hall, with three free storeys high, it occupies the whole block on its height. The library multipurpose room and auditorium are located on the west side of the block, connecting with Block B (school library). The school secretariat is located eat side and connects with Block A (administrative areas / management and teachers). The horizontal connections to the different levels are located on the back of the entrance block. They link the entrance block, Blocks A and B and two levels of Block D.
A slender metallic structure, enfolded in golden aluminium beams, distinguish the linking elements between the pavilions.
It connects with the entrance block. All areas with exterior relation are located on this block, all parented related. Management areas, administration, socio-educational support areas and first aid room are located on the ground floor of this block. On the upper level all exclusive teachers’ areas: workrooms, meeting and socializing.
It connects with the entrance block. The school library is located on this block. The library multipurpose and multimedia room are located on the entrance block, which allows them some functional autonomy.
This Block is placed in a central position in the set of pavilions. On the ground floor is located the bar, that connects with Block E (canteen). Normal classrooms are located on the first floor. All other blocks are connected with this one, and it connects with Block E on the ground floor through a covered social area.
It’s a one level block that has a direct connection with Block D. The dinning room and kitchen are located on the east side of the block, allowing an easy connection with the vehicle circulation area
Blocks C, F and G
These three blocks are exclusively occupied with normal classrooms. Block C (ground floor) has a direct connection with Block D (social / café). Block G connects with Block D only on the second level, where general classrooms are located. Block F has a ground floor connection with Block G and there are exclusively general classrooms on both floors of this block.
Blocks H and I
Block H is an extension of Block I and replaces another existing building that didn’t have enough quality to be maintained, and therefore, showed high costs in terms of the extension that also was needed. Block H was developed in an optimized manner, the very specific laboratory area, whose standards and guidelines were implemented due to not having to adapt to any pre-existing structure. Block I has the arts and crafts rooms. Arts and crafts and technology co-inhabit in a distinguished volume, with a wider inner circulation area, in order to exhibit the art students works.
Being a more recent infrastructure, the intervention in this area was limited to the correction of some comfort aspects, as the acoustic one. As well as the expansion of the locker-rooms that now allows eight simultaneous classes, instead of the previous four. The pre-existing locker-rooms were completely refurbished in order to adapt to the new guidelines for this type of areas."
- Atelier Central