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Miguel de Cervantes Bilingual High School

Miguel de Cervantes Bilingual High School was built in 1959 as a secondary school, presumably as one of the type projects developed in 1959 which featured 24 classrooms in a U-shaped monoblock layout.

In 1958, Romania officially adopted the principles of rational construction imposed by Nikita Khrushchev in the USSR since 1954: economy and industrialization. Type plans emerged as models for economical, rational schools, which can function anywhere in the country. The type project for a school with 24 classrooms, designed by the architect G. Cristea resembles the layout of No. 165 Elementary School, the current Miguel de Cervantes Bilingual High School. Although the U-shaped plans are similar, the type project foresaw separate pavilions for the gym and festivities halls, while Cervantes High School incorporates them in one of the lateral wings of the buildings.

The high school is close to the Saint Emperors Constantin and Elena Church, its plot consisting of several previous plots of irregular shape crossing across the urban block. The placement of the building favours cardinal points, as the wings containing the classrooms face South, over the plot’s limits or the alignment of the other buildings. Its location in a predominantly residential area previously lacking an educational institution points towards the rational theory of neighbourhood units. The building is set backfrom the alignment, being separated by a planted courtyard entrance, making it a subtle presence in the urban fabric.

So as to receive as much natural light as possible, classrooms face South and hallways face the inner courtyard generated by the U-shaped plan. In the north-western wing, the ground floor features a festivity hall and a gym hall at the upper level.. The rest of the wing consists of appendages, offices and administrative spaces. Due to lack of space, as the former secondary school was eventually converted to accommodate classes spanning from age 0 to 12, several classrooms and laboratories were improvised in this wing.

Overlapping the rigorous and rational plan of the high school over the irregular shape of the lot creates “accidental spaces” in the form of several yards surrounded by blind walls and fences from the nearby houses. Those “in-between” spaces with their lack of planrigour are what humanize the school experience that would have otherwise been a well optimized educational machine.

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TEAM:  Bogdan Botoi, Ruxandra Sandovici

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