This once vacant parochial school was built in 1954 and recently transformed into the Golestan School, which exceeded expectations for learning environments amidst the global pandemic. This school was the first and only elementary school in Contra Costa County that was approved for in-person learning because of the open layout with ample amounts of natural air circulation. Stromberg Architecture achieved this COVID-friendly layout by utilizing Contemporary Clad Multi Slide Sliding Doors from LaCantina.
The unique approach and inclusion of massive LaCantina sliding glass doors elevate the overall architecture while providing children with the freedom to roam indoors and outdoors whenever they please. From the overall design of the building to the backdrop and nature-inspired playground, the Golestan School, which is located in El Cerrito, Calif., is a serene and aesthetically driven building.
Stromberg Architecture used LaCantina Contemporary Clad Multi Slide Doors to achieve this melded indoor and outdoor learning environment. The multi slide doors stack on top of each other in a way that still provides a sleek aesthetic while opening up the area to let ample amounts of natural air circulate throughout the space.
The LaCantina sliding doors that the Golestan School uses make up the entire length of what traditionally would be a wall. Instead of creating a closed-off structure where interior classrooms and exterior classrooms were divided, architects created a seamless transition between the learning spaces to foster creativity and calmness during the global pandemic.
The matte black frames of the sliding glass doors blend into the paint that’s used on the entire exterior of the school. These darker elements create contrast and allow for other areas, like the foliage around the playground, to draw your eye. This seamless integration of sliding glass doors into the surrounding design creates a feeling of minimalism.
The Golestan School was under construction when the global pandemic hit, which is why it takes advantage of all of the space provided on the lot to create areas that allow for social distancing and effective learning. The building itself blends in with the natural backdrop created by the mountains. The dark blues with wood elements make the Golestan School look as if it’s part of the nature around it.
The school’s interior is accented with warm wood tones and white paint to create a clean and minimalist environment that can be filled with imagination. LaCantina multi slide doors can be outfitted with wood frames on the interior of the doors and in this school, the interior was finished with Douglas fir to match the light wood furnishings in the space.
To create an interior space that flows well to the outdoors, natural wood elements were used throughout both spaces. The vertical wooden flooring flows toward the exterior to elongate the space while dark paint is used to accent the sliding glass doors and tie into the school’s darker exterior design. Multi slide doors were chosen because they complemented the desired layout for the school, and they provided quiet, secure and safe operation.
The client wanted to maximize the glass that was going to be used in the space and the narrow rail dimensions provided by the multi slide glass doors created the aesthetic the client was looking for. The added ability to finish the interior side of the doors in wood made LaCantina an easy choice to incorporate into the architectural design of the school.
Blending interiors and outdoor spaces allows greater utilization of the available square footage, but the idea brought up a variety of concerns from energy efficiency to structural stability. LaCantina doors met all of the requirements including security, accessibility and cost while bringing the clients’ vision to life. The expansive panes of glass and size of the sliding glass doors allowed the Golestan School to promote the healthy attributes of the space, like natural ventilation, and open successfully last fall during COVID.
The Golestan School features a massive outdoor area and playground made of natural elements with plenty of room to accommodate all the children while still giving them space to social distance. The outdoor space was designed by Megan W. Stromberg Consulting. The main structure in the outdoor space includes a cover and hammocks to give the kids an area to escape the California sun. The landscaping throughout the school draws on the surrounding nature instead of including artificial materials to create a playful environment.
The contractor on this project, which earned the Best of LaCantina 2020 for Best Commercial Award, was Oliver & Company Inc.
PHOTOS: Justin Kaneps