The Anna Papageorgiou STEM Center
It all started with an ambitious dream.
Born in the throes of Greece’s worst financial crisis, a bold idea was cast to build a new, stand-alone building on the campus of Anatolia College dedicated to the learning of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Anatolia is a central force of educational innovation in Greece, and as such, embraced the challenge to adapt its educational approach to meet the ever-changing needs of the 21st Century. The skills required to succeed today call for an investment in scientific teaching. Teaching the process of science means going beyond the content to help students understand how we know what we know and giving them the tools they need to think scientifically. Thus, the dream to build a dedicated living laboratory steeped in the latest building technologies and sustainability became a reality.
We were careful to bring on board a team of celebrated and experienced architects, Schema 4, who designed a building that is, on its own, an educational tool, prompting students to learn about and explore sustainable design and think of architecture as yet another means to support the environment.
After securing two major gifts from USAID, the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Papageorgiou Foundation, we were even more confident to reach out to you – the people who have always shared in our vision and believed in our mission for providing quality education – and ask you to become part of this amazing journey.
It is only thanks to your generosity that the Anna Papageorgiou STEM Center is now a reality.
Despite the unique circumstances caused by the pandemic, the Center was completed on schedule and opened its doors on September 14, 2020, ready for the Greek schools’ official opening for the new academic year. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, we are unable to welcome you to the new building however, we can share with you the students’ excitement when they first entered the new building and give you a virtual tour here.
The sciences have never been taught and learned with more eagerness and enthusiasm than in the sunlit building of the Anna Papageorgiou STEM Center. In its three labs, as well as in the multi-purpose room, experiential learning is facilitated and creative thinking as well as problem solving are encouraged.
The Anna Papageorgiou STEM Center stands as a testament to the power of the common good and the unlimited possibilities of a shared dream. Anatolia College, as it has done many times in its past, united its community under a dream for a better tomorrow.
The Anna Papageorgiou STEM Center Building
The Anna Papageorgiou STEM Center represents a significant addition to our campus as a modern and environmentally friendly building dedicated to the learning of science. Located on the Gymnasium side of campus, the new Anna Papageorgiou STEM Center represents the type of necessary infrastructure improvements required by Anatolia to support its new learning paradigm.
The Center exemplifies the sensitivity to environmental impact and energy efficiencies achieved by the use of modern architectural planning with the incorporation of bioclimatic designs, renewable energies and the focus on zero emissions. This process of sustainability becomes a visible learning tool for teachers and students with the installation of a digital information system that measures real-time energy production and consumption.
The attention to the environment and sustainable energy coupled with our focus on experiential learning, talent development, social responsibility and excellence represent the key components of Anatolia’s educational model. The Anna Papageorgiou STEM Center facilitates the employment of modern educational methods that create a holistic synthesis between pedagogy and environment. The purpose of the STEM program at Anatolia College is to develop student skills and competences as a driver of innovation and the cultivation of creativity and critical thinking.
Due to the pandemic, the new building currently hosts laboratories for Gymnasium students, housing the engineering and robotics programs. Our plan, however, is for the Center’s facilities to be used by all of Anatolia’s students, as well as service the needs of our Center for Talented Youth (CTY) Greece program. Anatolia will also benefit by vastly expanding its already flourishing STEM programs and support the collaboration with external organizations introducing yearlong programs to students of the wider community. Furthermore, Anatolia will further expand its positive impact and reach to the students of the greater community with the intent to expose them to new technologies and build an appreciation for the benefits of environmentally friendly architecture and energy sustainability through conversation.
The Anna Papageorgiou STEM Center Gardens
Anatolia College has its own part of history, spanning more than 90 years in Thessaloniki’s suburban area. The Gardens of Anatolia College are a pleasant and valuable space-time capsule of landscape architecture thanks to the insight of the people in charge and their continuous rational management from the period of their creation, in the early 1930s.
Anatolia College’s distinct character consists not only of its buildings, but also of its intangible heritage. Both its architecture and its landscape design are a living heritage and an undeniably important part of the city's history.
Upon recording and evaluating the environmental and anthropogenic factors that affect the structure and operation of the space created by the construction of the Anna Papageorgiou STEM Center, the team of landscape architects proceeded to the design of its gardens. Taking into account the existing plantings of the wider campus, as well as its value as an ecological habitat, they made sure to incorporate the design smoothly. The STEM gardens’ philosophy is based on the treatment of rainwater as a source of life and not as waste, as well as on the reduction of the effects of urbanization on the natural water cycle.
The landscape design was guided by the deconstruction of austerity and regularity. Following a purity in shapes, it creates a free central area of natural recreation. The removal of regularity led to the addition of elements in the shape of an “incomplete eclipse” that function both as seating benches, as well as support systems. These elements are vital to the management of rainwater. The newly created "rain gardens" are specially designed, small soil cavities, which have planting and a suitable soil substrate, so that the process of bio-retention takes place in them.
Planting of the gardens was inspired by Anatolia’s existing gardens and includes 28 different plants, as well as two trees of special ornamental value. The plants share a Mediterranean character, aroma in foliage and flower, require minimum irrigation and fertilization and are ideal for educational purposes.
Finally, it is worth noting that both the east and west rain garden of the new building play both a functional, but also educational role, while the four seating areas will serve the visitors of the building. The overall intervention of landscape architecture is consistent both with the simplicity, but also with the innovation of the architectural solution of the building itself, as well as with its ecological identity.