26.10.2018

Smart Center

The first Smart Center campus is located in the northern Armenian province of Lori. Lori is the northernmost province of Armenia, sharing borders with Georgia.

It is currently the largest province of Armenia with around  3800sqkm and a population of around 235000. The building is located an hour’s car ride away from the capital of Lori, Vanadzor. The construction began in November 2015 and the building opens its doors in May 2018.

The center’s organic form embraces the landscape by creating a sinuous ribbon like walkway around an immense courtyard of around 7500sqm with a mere construction footprint of 3700sqm. The single storey building spreads horizontally following the shape of the land. In so doing, the architecture of the campus establishes a new reading of nature and structure. The 600m facade comprises of opaque walls and 168 panels of glass, each 1.5m in width and 4m in height. The transparency of the glass facades connects the enclosure with the immense courtyard beyond it. It magnifies the landscape through reflection while at the same time creating ambiguity of boundaries between inside and outside.

The design generates an environment, as opposed to a building, where the embraced landscape becomes a celebration of the rural environment incorporating as part of its lexicon exuberant sensorial experiences and expansive visual panoramas.

The construction finally looks as though it has been seamlessly placed on the unmodified landscape, inviting the landscape to take over the campus.

This pocket laid on the ground connects the visitors to a world of learning, healthcare and empowerment through interconnected spaces that house several classrooms, a health post, studios, open computer lounges, meeting points, an auditorium of a capacity of 150 people for performances and presentation, a small library with a digital section, a restaurant and various spaces for diverse indoor and outdoor activities varying from sports to entertainments and arts to agriculture and diverse other workshops to train and enable developing children, youths and adult villagers alike in regionally relevant skills. And to provide the necessary support, the campus can also accommodate program participants and visiting collaborators in its guest quarters.

The main characteristic of the indoor may be the circulation that shifts from the task of being a service area to the task of being a lived area. As such, the visitor is exposed to various activities as they circulate within the enclosed spaces around the courtyard. The heart of the project can itself become a stage hosting different kinds of events accessible from many entry points around its circumference as the circulation of the campus has no significant hierarchy.

There are no fences defining boundaries around the lot, making the building the only boundary on the landscape defining a space: a courtyard. The Smart Center is thus a lyrical hymn to the Landscape of Armenia.

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