Drama school for immigrants, Athens

Trough the history, Drama has always been extremely important in Greece. The city of Athens created the theatre in the 5th century B.C. to promote its culture. This invention was not only cultural but also architectural, thus creating a new typology.

Recently, Greece, and Athens in particular, have been facing economical crisis and problems linked to immigration. The neighborhood of Kerameikos and Metaxourgeio in the center of Athens are one of the most affected places by the arrival of new immigrants. More than 50% of immigrants are illiterate or have only attended primary school.

A drama school would be appropriate because it is a good way to learn a language. The educational goal would be to make interaction and communication between children easier by «learning by doing». In other words moving language study out of the classroom context would make language learning more enjoyable. The school would be run by both the National Theatre of Greece and the Ministry of Education and subsidized by private funds. Different teaching classes will take place during the day and the evening.

The site is at the crossroads of Iera Odos and Piraeus, where various cultural activities are located.The archeological site of the cemetery of Kerameikos is just in front of it which allows a direct view on the Acropolis. The plot involves two abandoned neoclassical buildings, which is frequent in Kerameikos.

The program consists of classrooms, an administration with reception and a main flexible theatre of 160 seats. The theatre can have multiple configuration of stage according the play...

The project uses the two neoclassical buildings by restoring them. The building facing Piraeus is used for administration and reception. The second one is mostly classrooms thats could also be used for different workshops. A third entity, the theatre, is added to the neoclassical building and redefines clearly the courtyard as a linking space. The courtyard is permeable on four sides and wants to be a catalyst for Piraeus and the Kerameikos neighborhood following the Urban Constitution.

For the two neoclassical buildings, the concept is to use reinforce concrete load bearing walls in a transversal way to divide the space. The functions are inserted in between those walls. The structural system try to be close to the existing structure, that is load bearing walls and concrete bears that are some time exposed. The circulation is always along the courtyard. The materiality of the walls is expressed «as found» with exposed new rough concrete.

The theatre is made up of one massive volume that try to interact with the two others. The interior space is organized by forming the servant spaces a circle around the performance hall. Some apparent wire meshes cross the performance hall inspired from the industrial atmosphere of the surroundings. The roof is for multiple used such as café, outside representation,events, etc. A big window frames the view and it evokes the importance the landscape in the classical greek theatre. The facade is made of concrete from thin wood plank framework. The light trough the openings is filtered by a concrete pattern (moucharaby) which make reference to some existing openings in the center of athens.

A second small building on the back of the theatre is use as a cafe which can be independent during the day.

To conclude, the Drama school would like to become a gathering point for social and educational exchange for immigrant and greeks in Kerameikos and in the City of Athens.