Medusa Group designs Akademeia high school with herb garden roof

Medusa Group designed Akademeia High School in Warsaw with a large court surrounded by tiered seating that leads to a roof garden of aromatic herbs.

Designed as an alternative to traditional schools, Akademeia high school has a system of modular rooms that create an “educational ecosystem” of “ambiguous, multifunctional and inspiring spaces”.

“The changes in the public education system in Poland have not kept up with the changes in the lives of young people,” Medusa Group said.

“It was the basis of creating an atmosphere that would encourage people to stay in school outside of school hours.”

Akademeia High School by Medusa Group Architekci in Warsaw

The school is arranged in a C-shape around a courtyard, with educational spaces located in the middle of the plan and the arms at each end containing a canteen and a covered sports field.

The canteen, designed to be “like a trendy restaurant”, is used throughout the day, moving from a restaurant to a cafe, reading room or performance space.

Akademeia High School by Medusa Group Architekci in Warsaw

Externally, the school was designed to have both a public, “urban” and private presence, the treatment of the facade changing to cope with it.

Facing the street, a steel frame covered with wooden planks surrounds a glazed interior facade, ensuring privacy and creating an effect of translucency. At ground level, this breach becomes a covered walkway that surrounds the school.

Akademeia High School by Medusa Group Architekci in Warsaw

At the north corner, the ground floor has been opened up with glazing, offering a view of a spectacular entrance space with an angular wooden roof shape and seating areas.

“We want young people to sit on what they like to sit in the city. In the classroom they are sitting on chairs, but there is also a space where one can lie down and sunbathe, ”the architecture studio explained.

Interior photo of Akademeia High School by Medusa Group Architekci in Warsaw

Overlooking the courtyard, the elevations are still in wood but flatter, with large windows overlooking this outdoor space.

On the northeast edge of the courtyard, a series of stepped sections provide access to a green roof as well as amphitheater-style seating to view the courtyard. Some stairs have been completely replaced to create a stepped terrace of concrete planters.

Akademeia High School by Medusa Group Architekci in Warsaw

The rooftop garden, along with the bee hives, is intended for growing herbs that can be used by the school canteen below, thus contributing to the school ecosystem. The building has obtained a LEED Platinum rating for its environmental and energy saving solutions.

Many new school designs now seek to promote more flexible workspaces instead of a room-out-of-hall approach. COBE and MVRDV recently built a school in Roskilde inside an abandoned concrete factory, with flexible “creative rooms”.

Project credits:

Architect: Medusa Group
General architects: Przemo Łukasik, Łukasz Zagała
Cooperation: Beata Bańka, Mariusz Okrajek, Anna Pawełczyk, Jarosław Przybyłka, Michał Sokołowski, Mateusz Rymar, Konrad Basan, Piotr Dećko and Michał Laskowski
Interior design : Medusa Group, Studio Rygalik
Landscape architecture: Urban Design
Construction: Skanska
Investor: Tacit investment

Terri S. Tomasini