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High School Nikola Karev

Skopje, North Macedonia
1 of 17
Archival Photo

The Pedagogical high school "Nikola Karev" was one of the many school buildings designed and built in Skopje after the earthquake in attempt to resolve the serious shortage and to raise the quality of the education space. Designed by the prominent Macedonian architect Janko Konstantinov its construction started in 1968, while the official opening was in April 1970. Following its completion, the "Nikola Karev" high school was awarded with the “Borba” award (NIP Borba plaque) for the best achievement in Macedonian architecture in 1969. The high school was erected within the residential area Karposh 3, built as a result of the expansion of the city towards west in the late 1960’s. The building occupies the eastern segment of a large building plot, located in the immediate vicinity to the Childrens Library “Drugarche” and the polyclinic “Bucharest” (given by Romania after the earthquake as a gesture of solidarity for Skopje).

The spatial structure of the high school is composed out of two independent architectural units – larger school building and a smaller sports hall. With capacity of over 1.400 students, the high school is a modern school building with simple and clear spatial organization – the ground and the first floor are oriented towards central common space (aula), few steps sunken in relation to the ground floor. The aula is extending in the total height of the building, offering rich zenithal light with its pyramid-shaped lanterns. The plan of the building shows the pattern of multiplication of classrooms and small teachers offices module, organized in perimeter around the central space of the aula. The service spaces are located in separate, rounded volumes, at three corners of the building, while the fourth (north-west) corner houses the circular tower with the music and art classrooms. This separation of functions, usually services but also spaces with specific use in distinctive architectural shapes, emphasized both in the plan and in the spatial layout of the building is a frequent and characteristic theme of the brutalist architecture. The sports hall is situated in a separate volume, in a close proximity to the main building, accompanied by a small outdoor amphitheater on the northern side of the plot.

Following the Brutalist logic and aesthetics, the building is highly reduced in terms of materiality. The structure, the exterior and interior surfaces are made in reinforced concrete, left visible and cast in-situ, in a manner that clearly reveals the texture of the wood paneling. Despite the reduction in terms of materials, the building abounds with architectural plasticity expressed in repetitive angular geometries and contrasting rounded shapes. The highly expressive character of Konstantinov’s work dating from the late 1960s and 1970s in this building is perhaps being most reduced and purified.

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vldmr, May 30th, 2023
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