The architectural award-winning Combatentes Educational Center is in the municipality of Ovar in northwest Portugal, 40 km from Oporto. It was developed as an educational center of excellence for up to 375 elementary schoolchildren aged from 3 to 10. This 3.5 million euro facility was conceived as a total refurbishment of the existing traditional, two-storey street-fronting courtyard building, plus a totally new and uniquely styled curvilinear building behind it, linked together by covered corridors.

Maintaining the old building

While maintaining the pre-existing building’s connection with the street, the project adds a new building, whose curvilinear geometry creates conditions for the development of the school program while rebalancing all the lines and angles of the terrain. The different functions are articulated in the two buildings (old and new), characterized by the distinct architectural objectives (rehabilitation and new construction) and the varying curriculums required to accommodate children from the ages of three to ten.

Classrooms and kindergarten in the new Building

The new building contains the classrooms, the gymnasium, kindergarten, canteen, kitchen and related services, as well as multi-purpose rooms. This is typified by the southwest facade comprising a blade system which controls the light and heat, producing variety in a building associated with games, creativity and rigor. The northeast side features a curved concrete facade, which is insulated and covered with tiles. The use of tiles creates a waterproof barrier and establishes a relationship of continuity using an ancient technique mastered by Ovar’s building practitioners.

The project specifications stipulated numerous different multi-purpose rooms and specialist areas such as classrooms, meeting rooms, assembly halls, a library, music rooms, a gymnasium, changing rooms, a kindergarten, plus a canteen, lunchroom and kitchens. They are all connected by wide and airy central corridors, in addition to the covered corridors in the passageways between the buildings.

The architect’s requirements for the flooring systems and finishes were an important aspect of their design.

Sika Comfortfloor® systems create a healthy environment

In addition to being available in the striking modern color scheme intended to lift the spirits and ambitions of the students, a totally seamless flooring solution was required throughout the facility. The flooring system had to provide a solution without joints, which would also (and equally importantly) provide a high level of comfort underfoot, with sound deadening and footfall noise reduction capabilities. And of course for this type of facility and healthy environment for children, the floors all had to be easy to clean and keep hygienic.

The selection criteria defined by the architectural team was virtually a list of the features and performance specifications of the Sika Comfortfloor® systems, so these were the obvious choice. Sika Comfortfloor® systems have high elasticity, with excellent crack-bridging abilities to give a sense of comfort when walking; the elasticity also reduces footfall sound (impact noise) and so creates less disturbance or distraction all around.

These solutions also have low VOC emission and are highly fire-resistant (certified according to EN 13501-1 class B(fl)- S1). For the more aggressively exposed service areas of the kitchens and other utility zones, the highly abrasion-resistant Sikafloor® systems were used, with easily cleanable profiled anti-slip surfaces where appropriate. This outstanding complex will be an important place for children as they start out in life. And no one can deny that it meets their needs perfectly.

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