CHYBIK+KRISTOF envisions nature at the heart of Moscow’s Senezh Management Lab

The proposal for the Russian countryside campus, an entry in a competition, places the inter-connectedness of social and natural environments as a core element of learning.

by STIRworld Published on : May 11, 2020

In the lakeside town of Solnechnogorsk on the outskirts of Moscow, CHYBIK+KRISTOF’s proposal for an educational campus revisits existing notion of teaching and learning environment. As part of an invited competition, the masterplan for the 82-hectare Senezh Management Lab reinterprets the framework of 19th century prolific psychologist Lev Vygotsky’s ‘socialcultural theory’ that suggests that human learning is largely a social process.

The verdant context of the campus | New Senezh Management Lab | CHYBIK+KRISTOF | STIRworld
The verdant context of the campus Image Credit: Courtesy of CHYBIK+KRISTOF

Embedding nature into the design of the campus is a key component of the project. The interiors and exteriors are intertwined with the verdant ecosystem, which includes surrounding lake, wetlands, forest, open meadow, and orchards, which invite students to move seamlessly through the space.

Masterplan - Exploded axonometric | New Senezh Management Lab | CHYBIK+KRISTOF | STIRworld
Masterplan - Exploded axonometric Image Credit: Courtesy of CHYBIK+KRISTOF

The core of the masterplan is the lab, which is a single ‘polymorphous structure’ integrated within the slope of the site. The four-storey layout is designed to offer maximum views of the surrounding lake. It comprises classrooms set in clusters of three, and a conference hall that opens onto a courtyard. Movable wall partitions within every room allow a fluid transition between formal and informal learning while encouraging interactions between the students and faculty.

Interiors opening to the views of the lake | New Senezh Management Lab | CHYBIK+KRISTOF | STIRworld
Interiors opening to the views of the lake Image Credit: Courtesy of CHYBIK+KRISTOF

“Seamlessly integrated in the landscape, Senezh Management Lab embodies the future of education – one deeply tied to environmental concerns, to a new knowledge economy, and to how our societies can better cohabit, and learn from, the natural world, say CHBYIK+KRISTOF founders Michal Krištof and Ondřej Chybík.

“This extensive project integrates the entire site as part of the education process. It places the environment – both sociological and natural – at the root for all teaching and learning.”

Winding alleys wrapped in the landscape | New Senezh Management Lab | CHYBIK+KRISTOF | STIRworld
Winding alleys wrapped in the landscape Image Credit: Courtesy of CHYBIK+KRISTOF

A seamless network of alleys traverse through the site and connect the many buildings that dot its landscape. This includes a library, designed as ‘an elevated multi-layered open cylinder set along the shore’, which doubles to offer itself as a space for both individual retreat and collective research.

Situated next to the library is a series of dormitories designed as wooden pavilions. This space offers to be a functional social -housing model that can be positioned or replicated across other sites. The nature of this space has been kept rather informal to allow more communal interaction and exchange.

A visualisation of the campus during winters | New Senezh Management Lab | CHYBIK+KRISTOF | STIRworld
A visualisation of the campus during winters Image Credit: Courtesy of CHYBIK+KRISTOF

Culture is kept as an inherent aspect of the learning process and thereby informs various spaces within the scheme. A former building on site has been repurposed to be used as an art cluster next to a sprawling sculpture park, while an existing swimming centre is converted into a large music hall and other allied spaces.

A set of tree-like pavilions has been envisioned as modules to host programmes of both indoor learning and outdoor recreation. These are populated through the campus as shelters for creative encounters and community learning. Additionally, a series of spaces promoting sports and physical education are designed to be used by students as well as the general public.

Roofs form a path between the shore and the forest | New Senezh Management Lab | CHYBIK+KRISTOF | STIRworld
Roofs form a path between the shore and the forest Image Credit: Courtesy of CHYBIK+KRISTOF

Sustainability finds a fundamental application in the design scheme. “Eco-farms are punctuated throughout the site, whilst the open buildings and green roofs endorse a durable connection with the vegetal world. The campus functions through composting, re-cycling and up-cycling systems, and a waste management infrastructure, while movement is assured through extensive walkways and bike and boat sharing,” says the Brno-based design studio.

While applying Vygotsky’s vision, the proposal nurtures innovative, onward looking ideas and keep environment and social connections as a key element to develop the future of the campus.

CHYBIK+KRISTOF’s proposal, which competed with entries by international firms such as Mecanoo and MADMA, was awarded the third prize in the competition.

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