In 2019, the Prague City Council began the revitalisation and reconstruction of the COPaG High School building, an educational facility first built in the 1970s with additions in the 1990s. The original layout of the school no longer corresponded to contemporary educational needs and a significant overhaul was needed. It also had a large amount of asbestos, the fibrous material that was commonly used in the 1900s that is now known to be a carcinogen. And finally, the building was energy inefficient.
The ultimate goal was to transform the school building into an intelligent, energy- and carbon-positive building with sustainable materials and systems.
Modern School Design for the 21st Century
The reconstruction project was implemented in cooperation with the University Centre for Energy Efficient Buildings at the Czech Technical University in Prague, Jiří Tencar, Ph.D., CEO at ECOTEN for the overall design, and the general contractor Subterra. It was prepared in accordance with SBToolCZ, a certification tool and comprehensive quality assessment methodology developed by the Czech Technical University in Prague.
The designers highly focused on environmental, socio-cultural, and managerial-economic aspects. Energy efficiency, water management, indoor environment, acoustics, lighting, air, thermal comfort, well-being, and raw materials were all key considerations. Besides the changes in its design, the building also needed to undergo an exhaustive decontamination process for the asbestos.
All systems installed can be managed in a way that they are economical and utilised only when necessary, dramatically reducing the operating costs of the building. A photovoltaic power plant was installed with a battery capacity of 300 kilowatt hours, making the building not only energy self-sufficient but even carbon positive. Other features include geothermal wells and heat pumps, intelligent LED lighting, CO2 sensors, a greywater system, a green roof with a corresponding rainwater collection system, and more. A ventilation system is connected to the classroom programming via an advanced information system.
Acoustics in the School‘s Design
The school’s acoustics were considered early in the design process and emphasis was placed on the environmental comfort of each room using an acoustic model developed by experts EKOLA Group. The goal was to provide an acoustic environment that exceeds the standards and requirements. One of the largest considerations was the significant amount of technology integrated into the building's ceilings.
Rockfon acoustic solutions were installed across the whole building. In the classrooms, these included:
- Rockfon Sonar ceiling tiles
- Rockfon Sonar Bass ceiling tiles
- Rockfon VertiQ wall panels
Across other spaces, solutions included:
- Rockfon Eclipse circular acoustic ceiling islands in white installed in the canteen
- Rockfon Samson impact-resistant acoustic suspended ceilings in the gym
- Rockfon Sonar ceiling tiles in the corridors
Speech intelligibility was achieved by controlling the reverberation time, meeting the requirements set by the Czech Republic’s Standard ČSN 73 0527 and the decree 343/2009 Coll, which set key parameters for reverberation times.
"In all spaces, emphasis was placed on optimal reverberation time or the creation of pleasant acoustic comfort. And it was very successful”, said Jiří Tencar, Ph.D. "A regular grid of round acoustic panels was originally designed in the entrance hall and the adjacent canteen and cafe, but due to the need to almost double the area of the acoustic panels, an irregular multi-layered ‘forest’ was created, which looks even better than the original plan."
The revitalisation of the COPaG High School incorporated several innovations and essentially stands as a pilot project for the Prague City Council in testing new standards and models for sustainable systems and indoor environmental quality. The building also received SBToolCZ gold certification, which underlines the benefits of the school in terms of impact on the environment and quality of life.