MATCHBOX Elementary School Sports Hall
Through the design process, architect Jovan Mitrović proposed to sink the whole volume of sports hall two thirds under the ground level, providing larger open area for children’s outdoor activities. He resolved the problem of the influence of underground water by designing the waterproof concrete hull five meters deep in the ground.
During the two centuries pupils of Obrenovac First Elementary School had no adequate indoor space for physical education and sports activities.
Local planners had planned the majority of the school's existing yard for the building, which would have dominated the site and obscured views of a church and other historic buildings.
Instead, the architect proposed submerging two-thirds of the building below ground, providing larger open area for children’s outdoor activities.
Through the design process, the solution for these challenges has been successfully found by designing the waterproof concrete hull five meters deep in the ground, just a few centimeters over the highest underground water level.
The only part of the building that extends above ground is a glazed wooden skylight that allows natural light to reach the interior of the main hall below.
According to urban concept, made by local planers, surface area of new sports hall was supposed to cover almost the whole school yard and its height would overtop surrounding 19th century buildings and the Church behind it.
The Client requested that school sports hall serves not only for the pupils of this school but also for training and competition of youth basketball and volleyball teams, and to provide recreation possibilities for local community.
As Obrenovac Municipality is in the close proximity to the Sava river, it is under the influence of the underground water. Through the design process, the solution has been found by designing the waterproof concrete hull, 5 meters deep in the ground, just few centimeters over the highest underground water level. This concept provided a kind of a waterproof box, as boat sink, for all premises inside.
The volume of the sports hall is two thirds sunken under the ground level. This concept provides larger open area for children’s outdoor activities. Only the hall’s skylight - row of wooden columns, windows and light flat roof is above ground level.
Two thirds of the building consist of the waterproof concrete hull, 5 meters deep in the ground, just few centimeters over the highest underground water level.
Upper part of the building - glazed wooden skylight is surrounded with playgrounds, football and handball open courts. The whole perimeter of glazed facade is covered with vertical wooden laths (bars) which protect the glass from ball hitting. The raw of “wooden matches” is a symbolic interpretation of wooden fences, typical for the villages in that part of Serbia. This rhythm of wooden bars also provides a dispersion of direct sunlight.
From the very beginning the idea was to design low budget, energy efficient and sustainable building with no unnecessary details. The light wooden beams and columns are matching with cheapest common pine plywood which covers court walls and ceiling. This light materialization together with clear spatial organization creates a warm and pleasant space.