Gökçeada High School Campus is designed by PAB Architects as an educational facility to keep up with the changing education model of today. The campus is valuable in terms of proposing an alternative, innovative and participatory learning environment which puts the student in a central role which consists of Anatolian high school, vocational school, dormitory, gymnasium, conference hall, and a library.
The project process of the high school campus started with the competition announced in 2014, and later the construction started in 2016 and the school was opened for use in the summer of 2019. The main aim of the project is to create an “open campus” by an integrated life between educational-social spaces of the school and the urban environment. The fact that, the island town is an isolated settlement with limited resources, having townspeople to share the library, conference hall, sports center, cafeteria, and open air facilities together with the students of two different high schools both enables efficient use of public resources as well as creating a rich social interaction. The campus with the park located in it has the potential to create a large recreational area for townspeople while there is a lack of open spaces on the island such as square, park and social facilities. It creates an active open space by connecting the main street with the campus at the northeast of the city as a transition and offering multiple public places with the intent of sharing limited resources efficiently. The campus is planned not only to serve students, but all islanders, to be integrated with the urban life to overcome the lack of social facilities on the island. The main motivation of the project is the design of an “open campus” for the pedestrians to benefit from the vast and green natural surroundings of the island. According to that, a route with the features of public functions and landscape is included in the campus for the pedestrian flow coming from the main street.
The townspeople can access the campus square and the buildings surrounding like the library, conference hall, indoor and outdoor sports areas easily as well as hobby gardens, picnic and meadow areas. The route around the dormitory and educational facilities also leads you to the park on the hill. To enhance the interaction between students and teachers, learning spaces are planned to be shared by high school and vocational school students and this brings about a fragmented and low-rise structure. On the ground floor, common areas used by both schools (laboratories, classrooms, cafeteria, etc.) are designed as having an easy flow through courtyards and provides sheltered open and semi-open spaces for both students and teachers. These areas with different characters deepen the sense of belonging; enhance the open air use, physical activities and therefore interaction. Learning spaces are connected to the street, square, grove and dormitory by their different entrances, and access to the educational facilities can be controlled through partial interventions. The fragmented building by niches on corridors encourage the education continuity out of the classroom by providing semi-open and open terraces and enable the creation of circulation areas rich in natural light and air.
The painting and music classrooms, laboratories, studios located on the ground floor propose an interactive learning environment as being transparent with an easy flow through courtyards for students to observe the artistic and scientific activities around them and for townspeople to interact with these learning activities. For instance, a passerby islander can listen to the melodies coming from the music room which acts as a stage opening towards the public street, or a student can observe the artworks through the transparent glass façade in the courtyard. A transparent and accessible learning environment that triggers a sense of curiosity is established. The cafeteria and canteen on the ground floor can be accessed from both sides (street and courtyards side) and serve both students and townspeople. The facilities of the campus become a part of the daily life of the island and act as a catalyst to transform the urban environment. Gökçeada’s small-scale masonry houses in organic urban patterns have affected the decision of fragmented and low-rise construction with the local stone texture selected as the material decision. Bigger volumes such as sports center and conference hall are halfway embedded with the help of the level difference to sustain a human-scale environment in relation to the natural surroundings and relate with this context both physically and conceptually with its scale and material choice. All the arrangements on the land are in harmony with the surroundings and local structural character. The compact master plan uses the former building footprints for the new blocks (except for the dormitory) to preserve. In an attempt to preserve existing trees in harmony with the settlement, only a small number of trees have been moved in order to make better use of natural light. The existing trees and the new woodlands are planned to surround the north of the buildings and east of open areas intensely by forming a sheltered wall against tough hubs. The rich natural landscape that the land already has form the main landscape character. Special arrangements such as hobby gardens, sports fields and event meadows are planned for specific areas.
In the project, basalt coating for floor covering is used partially. Local sandstone, which has been found in the architectural texture of the island for centuries, is used in areas such as building walls and retaining walls. The ground floor and the outer walls of the buildings are formed with load bearing masonry wall technique. Later, a thermal insulation layer and interior walls are built. Other walls that hold the soil in the courtyard walls or support the levels of landscape are also built with the same technique. The main goal of the competition proposal was to build a campus which can be used by two schools and the people of the island and throughout the implementation process it was tried to reconcile this aim with conventional management habits and offered to MEB (Ministry of National Education) as an innovative education model.