Architecture Education

An earthquake-proof school and boarding house by UNK Architects and CEBRA in Siberia offers a holistic education and living environment

November 9, 2021

Construction of the Point of the Future School in Irkutsk – a city in Eastern Siberia and one of the coldest places in the world – was funded by the Novy Dom philanthropy foundation. The school’s concept is based on modern educational programmes, however, its main task is adapting orphan children to adult independent life. The architecture of the building, with its structure and different types of interconnected spaces, was planned to become an element of education.

The authors of architectural concept are CEBRA Architecture office and UNK Architects. The school offers a full education cycle, from kindergarten to high school. It admits all applicants without any preselection based on abilities, enrolling those who were the first to apply, with 15% of its students being orphans, including the ones with special needs. They can live on campus – a gated community – with their professional adoptive parents. The school curriculum includes inclusion and social adaptation activities. 

The school building was designed to become an educational tool of its own. Daily educational scenarios in the designed space have been developed, after which engineering and planning solutions have been adjusted accordingly based on those scenarios. 

The windows in kindergarten and regular classrooms are located at different heights to light the space evenly. There are almost no corridors in the complex; it is based on the open space concept, so that children have the opportunity to socialise and spend their free time together. There are a lot of specially equipped grounds for outdoor activities in the schoolyard and around it. The project design also took into account a high seismic activity in the region. 

The authors put two symbolic ideas into the architectural concept of the school. Since the important starting point of the project was to create a space where all the children would feel comfortable while studying, the school – built in the shape of a circle – is designed to create the feeling of safety. The second idea is the fact that the building looks like home, which was reflected in the outline of inclined roofing of the educational buildings and the cottages where the students live. It was important that the kids perceive the school as their second home. 

The Point of Future is a progressive and a large-scale educational endeavour. It boasts multiple modern educational methods and architectural solutions which were delicately brought to life from the concept to implementation. Ten cottages located in the school territory accommodate nineteen families with 115 children. The foster family village is a community supporting kids in their adaptation to their new life. The Point of Future provides its students with a whole range of social practices, public interest activities, and pre-professional orientation. Its architecture steers students toward an active life inside a community and proves that they are in charge of their lives.

Project details:

Year of completion: 2020

Location: Irkutsk, Russia

Function: Educational

Area: 20 Ha

Architectural bureau: UNK; Photographs: Dmitry Chebanenko

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