Submission by: Dobromira Lulchev
Project name: ART CENTER ‘RILA RENESANS’
The aim of the open spaces of the Art center, Anglo-american school, Sofia is to resemble nature landscape. The design is inspired by Vitosha mountain’s silhouette and Sofia city’s dynamic.
The design of the school yard provides space for children and nature. Children can learn, play and have fun amongst clean, healthy natural cite. This is achieved by sustainable and multifunctional beautiful green spaces. The project is adventure-packed and inspiring, causing a positive impact on the microclimate, biodiversity and environment in the region.
The vegetation is diverse – trees, shrubs, perennials and ornamental grasses, situated in groups with asymmetric shapes, creates a dynamic and colorful landscape. Tree vegetation integrates the mountain as part of the landscape.
The project is an example of ecological and sustainable design. It is expected to earn GOLD LEED certificate until the end of July 2020, which will once more prove its many benefits for the environment and contribution in green infrastructure.
The space creates a variety of opportunities for playtime, rest, outdoor classes and activities. The park furniture includes different types of seating, which make the space transformable for different activities. The green areas incite social interaction and encourage curiosity towards nature
The different types of vegetation, including a dry and rain garden, complete the landscape and create different habitats, add more colors and textures throughout the seasons. The used plants are mainly native and adapted species which grow well in an urban context and need less maintenance. More than 50 native trees are implemented. The newly planted vegetation consists over 160 trees and over 3 330 ornamental shrubs, grasses and perennials. The great biodiversity includes more than 25 tree species and more than 32 species of shrubs, perennial species. Plant diversity decreases the pest and diseases spread. About 70% of the selected species offer shelter and food for birds, butterflies and bees.
The design includes dry and rain gardens which lower the maintenance costs. The use of local and adapted plants and the included water tank also reduces the cost for watering.
Trees provide shade and the soil from preheating. The green areas and green parking don’t conserve the soil. They provide fast permeability of rain water and cooling of the soil, which causes positive impact on microclimate in the region.
The landscape of the open areas is inspiring and interactive. The design provides diverse scenes for users during seasons, gives opportunities for organizing outdoor classes and activities, encourages social interaction and relationship with nature.
Design, materials, climate, innovative value
The design of the open spaces aims to mimic nature and the school’s surrounding landscape. The open spaces create a smooth transition between the building architecture and nature’s organic shapes. Different functional zones are designed: central, wild and dry garden, sport areas. The central zone is designed as an attractive green area between the existing buildings and the newly designed art center. This zone plays a key role in the current project – this is the connection between the excisting and the building and comprises the most functions – esthetic, ecological. To create a diverse and nature resembling landscape the design includes ornamental hills with height of 100-180cm, which resemble the mountain picks and separate space into smaller zones for different activities. This way different users have the opportunity to relax, have lessons or other outdoor events during the same time. Trees also help for this separation. Between them are created flower beds of perennials, which complete the landscape and add more color and textures. The space is pierced with linear seating, which look chaotically scattered. The park furniture consists of gabion benches with natural stones and mobile wooden stools by which spaces could be additionally transformed. The territory intended for landscaping is full of native or adapted vegetation with high decorative and ecological value, providing all year round effect and diverse accents during different seasons. The deciduous trees are chosen with interesting habitus and different ornamental effects, while the conifers serve as vertical accents. The richly and diverse landscaping is one of the most important and distinctive features of the project. The wild garden is designed only with wild flowers and grasses. Its maintenance is minimal. It provides students with a closer look at the flowers seasonal changes, which inspires curiosity and love towards wild nature. The dry gardens are a connection between the green areas and the pavement paths. They conduct rain water to a water storage container in order to reuse it for watering. All flower beds are covered with mulch which decreases the soil evaporation. The pavement is minimized to provide permeability and cooling of the soil. In 2019 Art center ‘Rila Renesans’ became the winner of the prestigious award ‘Building of the year’ for sustainable development. School is a place for games, studying and connection with nature. The open spaces of Art center ‘Rila Renesans’ are a good example how should a school campus look like and be used properly. Creating a place with high esthetic and ecological value, which offers so more opportunities and benefits, we educate children to respect the environment, natural or build up, nature should be sustainable and preserved for generations.