The site was offered by the Boldești-Scăeni city hall. It is in the same site with a kindergarten and a dispensary. We specifically asked for this kind of site, close to the town center, in a place with interaction with children and other people, because the new building is an educational center for children and young people from disadvantaged communities and it is very important for the education and personal development of these children not to separate them any more, but to encourage their interaction with other people, having them to acknowledge that they too are special and that they can accomplish great things.
Before the development, the site was almost vacant. It had a small structure that was used as a WC 10-15 years ago and a small playground, that we disassembled and constructed another one in another part of the same site.
OMV Petrom, the financer of the building and the educational program, supports 10 independent NGOs named CERC. They are a platform for people from poor communities, the local administration and representatives of OMV Petrom, where they are encouraged to define the community's problems, possible solutions and than to implement these solutions. OMV Petrom provides know-how for writing projects, applying for funding, implementing projects, writing reports etc.
For the 10th CERC they also wanted a building and an additional after-school program for children from poor families. Here they are receiving a hot meal daily and they are helped to prepare for school. The children are also doing vocational activities, the young people can participate at re-qualification courses for different jobs or the ones that abandoned school are helped to get back to school and graduate it.
The building was finished in June 2015 and since September 2015 the program is successfully implemented. The CERC Boldești-Scăeni has a Facebook page where they publish some of its activity - www.facebook.com/CERCBoldestiScaeni
In the process of integration of the Roma people, special attention has to be given to their identity, culture and traditions, which make them special. The educational and vocational program takes this into consideration, but we also wanted to use the architecture for this objective, as a result, but moreover as a process. We aimed to cultivate an appetite and assumption for the crafts that still exist in the Roma community. We hired 3 men from the community and we used traditional materials and technics, with which they are used to, mixed with more modern ones, so that they will be trained in new construction technics, which can be a source of income for further construction commissions.
The clay plastering and the use of twigs for the fence, for stabilizing the raised beds in the garden, for the ceiling or for the lampshades, are materials specific to their culture.
The building stands on a metal screw foundation, being the first civil building in Romania that uses this type of foundation. It has a wooden structure with straw bales infill, having the same section for the floor, walls and roof, eliminating thermal bridges. The clay plaster regulates the humidity and is a thermal mass needed for heating the space with radiant panels.
Children from the after-school program will be served a hot meal daily. The crockery needed was made during a workshop where the children from the community made the dishes out of clay and painted them. Some of them also attended a clay plastering workshop. This way, a connection between the children, the building, the objects there and the crafts is made.
The building will not generate operating costs for energy, gas or water. It has a closed water cycle, it does not use has for heating or cooking and the energy strategy is built on 3 steps:
1. Reduce energy loses – no thermal bridges, a very good insulation, triple glazed windows and doors
2. Reduce energy consumption – south orientation for solar heating in winter, large eaves to protect from overheating in summer, heat recovery system, LED lighting and energy efficient appliances
3. Energy production from alternative sources – 45 photovoltaic panels and 2 solar thermal panels, which produce more than the consumed energy, on an annual basis
The building has a kitchen, where a hot meal will be prepared daily for the children. O main classroom, that can be split into two for smaller classes and another room for vocational or professional development activities. When the weather is nice, an interior court can fit outside activities. The building also has an office for the NGO administration, and bathrooms.
A 440 sqm land is prepared for a gardening program, where children are thought about permaculture.
It is the first civil building in Romania with a metal screw foundation. It is the first public building made of straw bales. The building is water and gas independent and it produces more energy than it consumes, therefore having zero operating costs.
The project was very well promoted and it received several architecture prizes, promoting a new approach for rural architecture, using traditional materials and technics combined with new technologies that provide comfort and energy efficiency.
It is an example of corporate social responsibility. OMV Petrom, one of the most important companies in Romania, took a long term commitment and invested in the development of the Boldești-Scăeni Roma community.
One year and a half after the completion of the project, the building is used at its maximum capacity:
- The after school program is running on a daily basis.
- The CERC Boldești-Scăeni NGO was founded and they already started to identify projects that they need for their community and started to implement them. E.g. since the Roma community has 3 Medicine graduates, they already bought a land and are planning to build a clinic.
- The „Return to School” program helps young people that droped out to return to school
- Craftsman training courses are held for the adults
- A lot of other vocational activities are organized.
All the activities are proudly communicated by the community on the CERC Boldești-Scăeni Facebook page: www.facebook.com/CERCBoldestiScaeni.