The basis of the project is an oblong plot with its narrow side facing towards the sea and with a slight inclination. Having that in mind the project is divided it into three main levels of operation.
The first level is the one that houses the enclosed areas of operation that are a kin- dergarten, an accommodation for the elderly, a parking space and all of the electro- mechanical systems that serve the project’s needs. The main challenge of this level is the co-existence of two totally different age groups. On one hand we have to shelter the infants and toddlers and on the other hand the elderly over the age of 65. The two age groups are totally separated into two independent- below the ground- buildings with different entrances and autonomous outdoor areas. Since the Nursery school was placed underground our main concern was the ability of the natural light and ventilation to enter the school inner areas. Therefore, we created a spiral floor plan in a “Π” shape with all of the playing, sleeping and eating areas facing a central courtyard.
The accommodation for the elderly is located on the northern side of the plot and due to its inclination the largest part of the building is placed on the ground level. Structural- ly is a totally independent volume that can be constructed separately from the Nursery school. Other than the health care facilities, it contains an entrance hall, an entertain- ment space and an eating area. These areas are facing a second courtyard that can be used only from the elderly.
Nevertheless, the two different age groups can meet and interact on the second level of the project. The second level is designed in order to be used as a public square-a plaza and a new gathering point for the citizens of Chania and for the visitors of the project. It constitutes an area that can be used as a park, as a place for people to walk around and enjoy the greenery and the water surfaces, as well as an outdoor amphi- theater that can be used as a concert hall or a cinema. This level is actually the roof of the previously mentioned buildings.
The landscape is being used as a main component in the creating procedure. It gives birth to the below buildings, as well as, it creates a shelter for them. The existing en- vironment gives birth to the buildings and at the same time, it protects them. The ac- cess to the area is being made through three different entrances and the placement of custom designed sitting areas and benches, is the fact that gives a unique character to the project.
The third level is actually the top surfaces of the pergolas that are used for the shad- ing of the second level’s areas. This level has the role of the observatory. This level can be reached by external staircases and is where the visitors have the chance to have a glimpse of the project’s surrounding areas and of the town of Chania and at the same time to enjoy the view towards the sea.
Both the Nursery school and the accommodation for the elderly are placed under- ground, therefore the whole designing process is based on sustainable and resilient principals. The proper orientation of the building, the surrounding greenery-boosted by the added water surfaces, the buildings’ appropriate ventilation and insolation, all contribute to the optimal function of the project and to the reduced operational and maintaining costs.
Also, the shading systems that have been set on the public square level control the undesirable sunlight during the hot periods and offer natural shadowing and create a microclimate that contributes to the decreasing of the energy demands and the ecolog- ical footprint of the building.
Overall the project is following the main sustainable pillars in order to respond to the modern standards of operation and it is defined by its character as a Public space.