Prefab-ulous Classrooms win ArchitectsJURY competition


School renovations can create adverse conditions for teaching and learning, including the arrival of mobile-home-style temporary classrooms. Kristopher Celtnieks tackles this problem in his audacious “Relief School of Philadelphia,” winner of the GRAPHISOFT ArchitectsJury 2010 competition.

Celtnieks’ full-size pre-fabricated temporary school building would be quickly assembled on vacant spaces near schools under renovation, providing learning-friendly space with good acoustics, pleasant lighting, and a solid framework. The building could be quickly configured to the site and sized for enrollment. When renovations are complete, it could be disassembled and infinitely reused. It features a fabric roof, adjustable microclimate, and a self-contained waste-processing system.

“While it’s wonderful to recondition historic schools, the side effect is displacing children into inadequate learning environments,” says Celtnieks, a son of two teachers, who just earned his master’s degree in architecture from the University of Oregon. “These include so-called modular classrooms and gyms, theaters and music rooms, whose intended purpose should not be sacrificed. My goal is to make the transition period, which can be a matter of years, a positive experience for students and faculty.”

Celtnieks designed the project in ArchiCAD building information management (BIM) software, his preferred design tool because of its ease of use, freedom in the creation of original objects, and support of sweeping modifications. “I have always been one to make major changes in the course of design,” he said. “ArchiCAD makes it easy to effect the alteration while preserving fundamental design decisions. Changes have always haunted me in other programs.”

The ArchitectsJURY competition is aimed at finding the best architectural student work, as judged by visitors to, the student architecture community. Candidates for the spring semester 2010 award were submitted between Jan. 1 and June 30. Celtnieks wins a MacBook Pro.

For an expanded explanation of the Relief School of Philadelphia, visit Relief School of Philadelphia. For more information on Kristopher Celtnieks visit

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