Educational Building

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Educational Building


a building designed for various activities in a primary, secondary, or higher educational system and often including living areas for students, such as dormitories.

The first educational institutions—schools for priests, scribes, and other social classes in ancient Egypt, Babylon, and Assyria, were evidently located in temples, inasmuch as education was concentrated in the hands of the priests. In the principal educational buildings of ancient Greece—the palaestra and the gymnasium—the compositional nucleus consisted of a rectangular, enclosed peristyle, which had several rooms leading off it (the gymnasium at Miletus, second century B.C.).

The development of education in medieval Europe and the establishment of colleges gave rise to specialized buildings. Most colleges, especially large ones, closely resembled monasteries in appearance and floor plan. The principal rooms (the large teaching hall and chapel) and the areas used for daily life (the refectory, kitchen, and dormitory) were grouped around a courtyard surrounded by covered galleries (Magdalen College at Oxford, 1474–1504). Similar arrangements were traditional in Europe for large buildings, particularly university buildings, until the 17th century. As education became more complex, the number of lecture halls increased (Jagiellonian University in Kraków, 15th century; University of Vilnius, second half of the 16th century), and some featured amphitheater seating (the Sapienza [University of Rome, 1575–1650]; architects G. della Porta and F. Borromini). Most general-education schools had modest, single-story buildings with several classrooms (the schoolhouse in Burton Latimer in Great Britain, 1622). In the countries of the Islamic East the principal educational building was the madrasa.

The development of different types of school buildings prior to the beginning of the 20th century proceeded slowly, despite individual successful models; schools were frequently housed in monastery buildings or were constructed according to traditional monastery floor plans, as in Belgium.

Prior to the 18th century, educational institutions in Russia were located primarily in monasteries. Construction of a great many educational buildings began in the second half of the 18th century (the Smol’nyi Institute for Wellborn Girls in St. Petersburg, 1806–08, architect G. Quarenghi; the main building of the University of Dorpat, 1809, architect J. W. Krause). At first, school buildings were usually single-story structures with a common hallway uniting several classrooms. Single- and two-story educational buildings appeared later; they featured a corridor passing through the longitudinal axis, with classrooms situated on both sides. The most developed type of educational building was the Gymnasium—usually a large, two- or three-story building with a facade, ornamented with a portico or pilasters. Gymnasiums had a vestibule and a main staircase along the transverse axis, an assembly hall on the second story, and classrooms situated on both sides of the corridors (the Gymnasium at Orenburg, 1842). Institutions with limited acceptance, such as institutes for wellborn girls, included living quarters. An outstanding example of a specialized educational building is the Academy of Arts in Leningrad (1764–88; architects A. F. Kokorinov, J. B. M. Vallin de la Mothe), with a floor plan specially suited to the needs of a higher arts school.

Universities and institutes built during the second half of the 18th and first half of the 19th century usually had a floor plan with three wings set at right angles, characteristic of public buildings constructed during the classical period. The buildings had a cour d’honneur facing the street, a central area enclosed by a portico, and rooms located along a corridor (Moscow University, 1786–93; architect M. F. Kazakov). Similar compositions for the buildings of higher educational institutions were occasionally used in later periods as well (the Technical University in Dresden, 1844–46, architect G. Heine; the University of Paris, 1885, architect H.-P. Nenot). Differentiation among the sciences and the specialization of instruction, together with the considerable growth in the technical equipment used in education, led to the construction of large educational institutions with several groups of multistory buildings, such as individual faculty or department complexes, administrative complexes, auditoriums, and laboratories (the Polytechnic Institute in St. Petersburg, 1899–1902; architect E. F. Virrikh).

Two basic compositional plans have been widely used in the 20th century for the buildings of higher educational institutions: a single, integrated building, often with a complex floor plan and consisting of blocks adjoining each other, and a composition consisting of several individual buildings, often called a pavilion composition (the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, 1955, architect Mies van der Rohe; University Campus in Mexico City, 1949–54, architects C. Lazo, M. Pani, and E. del Moral). Individual buildings may also be grouped around a central, open area. In many countries, groups of large educational buildings, such as those of universities and polytechnic institutes, constitute a separate community, or campus.

In the 1920’s there was intensive development of various designs of school buildings that offered solutions to functional requirements and the problem of providing a healthful school environment. The functional differentiation of available space has become an important factor in developing rational, well-planned designs. Some schools are constructed with a building of two to four stories, joining premises with diverse purposes, such as classrooms, laboratories, and gymnasiums. Other schools distribute these areas among several blocks combined in one building (the school designed for 3,000 pupils in Neukôlln, Berlin, 1928; architect B. Taut), or they may feature several pavilions (sometimes divided into sections for students of different age groups) arranged around the perimeter of a courtyard or in a line and joined by covered passageways (the school in Nowa Huta in Poland, early 1960’s; architect J. Golab). During the 1950’s and 1960’s, architects from the European socialist countries made important contributions to the development of school architecture. In Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Yugoslavia the pavilion type of floor plan was widely used; compact designs were developed in the German Democratic Republic, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Rumania.

In the USSR large-scale construction of educational buildings—primarily schools—began in the second half of the 1920’s. Schools built in the late 1920’s and early 1930’s featured functional, often asymmetrical floor plans and a precise division into functional blocks and buildings, with educational areas situated along one side of wide, well-lighted corridors (the school on Stachek Prospect in Leningrad, 1927; architect A. S. Nikol’skii).

The huge scope of construction of general-education schools during the 1930’s necessitated a transition to a standardized design. Several standard designs were developed for compact, two-to four-story schools with classrooms situated along one side of a corridor. The principles of standardizing and differentiating educational buildings by type and number of students were further developed between the second half of the 1950’s and the 1970’s.

Small higher educational institutions with under 2,000 students, such as those for medicine, physical education, and the arts, and medium-sized institutions for 2,000–5,000 students, such as technical, agricultural, and pedagogical institutes, are usually built to standardized designs. They may provide for extended lines of building complexes (the standard design for an educational building complex to accommodate 2,500 students, 1964; architect A. M. Krivushchenko), a square complex with an inner courtyard (the Moscow Academic Choreographic School of the Bolshoi Theater of the USSR, 1967; architects V. V. Lebedev and A. D. Larin), or a system of compact blocks adjoining each other (the Moscow Institute of Electronic Technology, 1971; architects F. A. Novikov and others).

Large higher educational institutions with 5,000–10,000 students and universities and certain technical higher educational institutions with more than 10,000 students are usually constructed to individual designs for a complex of buildings differentiated according to purpose (separate buildings for departments, faculties, laboratories, lecture halls, and sports facilities). The main educational buildings are sometimes combined in a single building that makes maximum use of available space (the main building of Moscow University on the Lenin Hills, 1949–53; architects L. V. Rudnev and others), or they may form an extensive composition of pavilions around a central nucleus (the university complex in Tashkent, 1970; architect E. E. Kalashnikova). Large medical and technical higher educational institutions and universities are situated on the periphery of cities or in suburban zones; this facilitates cooperation between the institution and local clinics, hospitals, and scientific research institutes and between agricultural institutes and sovkhozes.

Standardized educational buildings are designed for technicums and vocational-technical schools; they include educational, social, and communal facilities and workshop blocks (the standard design for a technical school of 1,920 pupils, architects L. M. Krivushchenko and others). Standardized general-educational schools are the most important component in the construction of residential microraions. Modest-sized schools usually consist of a single block precisely divided into basic functional groups—classroom areas with recreation facilities and areas for younger children supervised after regular school hours, study rooms and laboratories, and areas for labor instruction, such as workshops. A progressive design for large schools features a building with several interconnected blocks, usually two or three, for junior and senior grades (the school for 2,032 pupils in Novye Kuz’minki in Moscow, 1964; architects I. N. Kastel’ and others).


Aleshin, P. F., A. I. Marinchenko, and V. V. Kolesnikov. Arkhi-tekturashkol’nykh zdanii. Kiev, 1952.
Naumov, S. F. Novye tipy zdanii proftekhuchilishch, tekhnikumov i uchebnykh kombinatov dlia massovogo stroitel’siva. Moscow, 1973.
Arkharov, I. M., and S. F. Naumov. Proektirovanie zdanii tekhnikumov i vuzov. Moscow, 1973.
Tsytovich, G. N. Universilety. Moscow, 1973.
Tsytovich, G. N. Politekhnicheskie instituty. Moscow, 1974.
Linde, H. Hochschulplanung: Beiträge zur Struktur und Bauplanung, vols. 1–3. Düsseldorf, 1969–70.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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