Circulus Vitae

Circulus Vitae
Welfare infrastructure and neighborhood park in the municipality of Chania

The design of infrastructure provisions is directly related to the challenge of locating public buildings within the urban fabric of a city. The proposed solution combines two archetypal arrangements: the outward-facing square (forum) and the inward-facing atrium (atrium). This fusion results in an architectural ensemble that not only enhances the coherence of the fragmented public space but also provides a modern, protective shell to accommodate the most vulnerable age groups it aims to serve.

The city of Chania, with its Mediterranean climate and rich history, is under constant pressure from private and tourist developments, leading to the depletion of public spaces and a loss of its identity. Ioannis Despotopoulos highlights the significance of the market, public spaces, and public buildings as the driving forces behind a city’s identity and public life. These public spaces are crucial in providing continuity, shaping the urban landscape, and defining the city’s character. At the neighborhood level, social cohesion fosters meaningful connections among the residents.

The newly proposed composition situates the square (forum) at the southern boundary of the plot in an area with high urban density and heavy traffic flow. It acts as a social hub, enriching and nurturing public life. This dynamic space serves not only as a place for relaxation and greenery but, more importantly, as a platform for social interaction and collective activities.

The building design adheres to the atrium typology and revolves around a spacious courtyard. Due to the local climate, the atrium has a historical presence in this location. Throughout most months, it naturally extends the interior spaces, reinforcing the social dimensions of the elderly center and the daycare center. The building is organized on two levels.

The first and lower level, close to the ground, accommodates the functions of the daycare center, while the second level, seamlessly extending from the public square, serves the elderly center.

These two atrium levels – housing the elderly center and the daycare center – converge in a covered outdoor amphitheater. This expanded cultural space acts as both a filter and a shared meeting place
for both the young and the elderly.

The building structure, together with the atrium, creates a unified central space that promotes integration among all age groups. This design emphasizes the social aspect of the complex, aiming to harmoniously integrate childhood into the social fabric while preventing social exclusion for the elderly. The “first” and the “third” age coexist within a unified structure, forming a Circle of Life.

Location: Chania, Crete, Greece

Architects: P4architecture

Design Team: Konstantinos Pyliotis, Chrysothemi Kouloumenta

Architects Consultants: Alkiviadis Pyliotis, Tassis Papaioannou (Professor at N.T.U.A)

Contributors: Panayiota Kyriakou

3D Visualisation: Petropoulos Andreas

Civil Engineer Consultant: Katerina Pylioti

Mechanical Engineer Consultant: Sourilas Konstantinos (KNS engineering consultants)

Physical Model Sculptor: Fotis Georgakas

Area: 9.370 m2

Project Year: 2020

Project Type: National Competition Entry