The proposal concerns the participation in the open complex architectural competition “Welfare Infrastructure and Neighborhood Park in the Municipality of Chania”, where the design of a crèche, a day care center for the elderly and a neighborhood park was requested.

The central idea of the proposal draws inspiration from the way children instinctively use space, and more specifically the schoolyard, as a dynamic field of creation, communication and development. The courtyard is translated as a nucleus for the birth of experiences in space, shaping its public image through individual and collective practices. The proposal is approached anthropocentrically by creating a core that activates and unifies the social character of the structures with the neighborhood, forming a stage where everyone can perform and produce a unique atmosphere in it, creating a bridge of communication and interaction.

The building set is approached as boundaries that allow the influx of movement inside the site, interrupting the contact where clear inward function takes place and creating intermediate thresholds of coexistence organized around a reference point. In this way, privacy is scaled without losing a sense of wholeness, both conceptually and design-wise. Based on the above, a centrifugal structure is organized by articulating a sequence of “courtyards”: the park, the nursery courtyard and the entrance plaza, upon which the sense of private and public is scaled at each scale.

In relation to the building complex, two buildings are proposed because the functions of the welfare structures concern two different age groups, which have basic differences in terms of their activities and needs for relaxation. It is proposed that the activity of the infants be protected and operate internally in relation to the other functions of the nursery, without being cut off from the whole. On the other hand, the activity of the elderly is based on extroversion, socialization and tranquility. The entrances of the two buildings are located in a common square of different levels. In it, urban facilities can be used by the users of the structures and the residents, enhancing the interaction and communication between them. In the southern part of the site, the park is developed, which is designed to serve some organized facilities for the residents of the neighborhood, such as urban gardens with aromatic plants and herbs offer the experience of engaging in gardening and organized space for children’s activities for physical, mental development and socialization. The nursery is organized around the courtyard, as a reference point for the children, but which also functions as the field of connection of all the above-mentioned open spaces, stimulating the sense of integration of the structures with the neighborhood within the plot. More specifically, the entrance of the nursery is located on the axis of the courtyards achieving their visual connection. Its functions are organized on the ground floor in a “Π” shape with a peripheral arcade, taking advantage of the southern orientation and the conceptual reference to the centrifugal element of the design, the courtyard. The courtyard can become part of the park, through the wet element that separates and at the same time unifies, allowing the life of the building to be united with the public, expanding its boundaries and offering an additional quality to children, that of participating on a larger scale, adapting it to their needs and enabling them to get involved and participate in the shaping of the public image.

Particular emphasis has been placed on bioclimatic and child-centered design. Bioclimatically, the proposal was approached through the creation of the building volume in Π with an arcade and large openings in the south for lighting and the exploitation of solar heat in winter, the use of a water element in the south for cooling in summer,
planting according to orientation, using evergreen trees in the north and deciduous trees in the south. Planting, has also been used as a tool to organize spaces for children through their seasonality, fruitfulness and symbolism. The constructions designed for the children have been based on developing their skills (such as gross, fine, balance, imagination, imitation) through their participation in the new spatial possibilities.