Published on March 26, 2021

Slovakia: High-school renovation project, an example of the way to a green future

by Jana Magdolenová and Mária Balková

Is it possible to maximize the reduction of a building’s energy performance while not destroying the original architectonic concept and the architect’s intentions? The example of a renovation project nearby Upper Nitra, Slovakia, offers answers to this question.

For us, students of architecture at the Slovak University of Technology in Bratislava, the issue of energy efficiency is as important as the overall appearance and aesthetics of an object. In 2018, the Emil Belluš Industrial-Engineering High-school in Trenčín was renovated and that process helps us think through the way to combine both these priorities.

About the high-school

The building’s plans were drafted in the 1960s which means it has the characteristics of late modern architecture. It was designed by Milan Rastislav Šavlík, one of the founding members of the Slovak Chamber of Architecture (SKA) and the recipient of the Dušan Jurkovič Prize, which is the oldest architectonic award in Slovakia, named after the founder of modern Slovak architecture.

The composition of the main building consists of three main structures. An entrance pavilion in the shape of a lens which is connected to a simple thin cuboid that constitutes the core of the school; a gym and a swimming pool located in the lower square section are also a part of the school area; glass dominates the main facade and lets the light come into the corridors which connect the classrooms.

The structural system is a combination of a reinforced concrete monolithic frame and a masonry wall system. A flat roof, as a traditional part of modern architecture, was essential, but in the pavilion, cable suspended structure was used to construct the hyperbolic paraboloid shape.

The high-school building pre-renovation.


The building was in constant use since 1970 and that fact was reflected on the overall quality of its outer and inner space. Furthermore, the building was in the „E“energy efficiency class and the running expenses for it were very high. Thankfully, there was an initiative for its renewal and restoration, therefore the financial means were eventually found. Pio Keramoprojekt a.s. in partnership with others prepared the project for a complete modernisation.

The original idea was to get the building in the „A1“efficiency class, but with the change in legislation it reached a category of a so-called passive building with almost zero energy expenditure – A0. It was crucial to choose the right and modern technologies to achieve this goal.

The use of a 200mm XPS (extruded polystyrene foam) and mineral wool for the building insulation was very important, because they eliminate thermal bridges in the best possible way. Photovoltaic panels as well as solar panels were also added, which heat the water in the school’ swimming pool. Both the pool and the gym were big parts of the project. Another interesting feature is the overnight pre-cooling windows system – the cooling introduced early in the evening is stored in the building fabric then released later in the day when it is needed. On the south side of the building, horizontal aluminium shades to protect from direct sunlight were installed, and the classrooms were equipped with technologies for monitoring temperature, humidity and CO2.

Financing the project

This project was financed with funds from the Slovak innovation and energy agency in partnership with the self-governing region of Trenčín.


NFP – SIEA OP KŽP1 1,99 mil. € (76%)
TSK2 0,62 mil. € (24%)
Spolu: 2,61 mil. € (100%)

1 Slovak innovation and energy agency – programme for quality of the enviroment

2The self-governing region of Trenčín


What were the steps of the renovation process?

An energy audit was carried out prior to the filing of the application and a project documentation was created (11/2015 – 03/2016). At the end in November 2017, the realisation of the project began and it was finished in May 2018. The whole realisation process lasted for around 3 years in May 2018.

  Prior to the renovation After the renovation
Heat consumption 858 967 kWh/year 192 152 MWh/year
Energy need and consumption 103 kWh/m2 22,6 kWh/m2
Electricity consumption 136 715 kWh 82 191 kWh
Annual energy costs 87 633 €/year 27 326 €/year
Energy efficiency class E AO

Table of energy figures prior to and after the renovation

Could we replicate this project?

Mariánska elementary school

This type of project proves that the most important factor in the renovation of public buildings is not only the initiative of the municipality but also of the individuals. Reconstructions like this could be applied to most elementary and secondary schools in Prievidza, whose energy efficiency class does not meet today’s requirements.

The Mariánska elementary school, built and opened in 1930, is one of the oldest schools in Prievidza. It is an important part of the town’s architecture, representing the interwar period. Preserved structures from this era are often marked by the regime of the following years. For this reason, buildings in their original state are generally regarded as very important and therefore a delicated approach towards their reconstruction is essential. It has been proven, however, that using even the most modern technology is not an obstacle in preserving the original architectonic concept.

We were interested if it is possible to renovate our buildings in Prievidza with such high standard therefore we approached the Main Architect of Prievidza, Ing. Arch. Zuzana Hlinková:

“There are 18 structures belonging to the town of Prievidza whose possible future increases in energy efficiency are being considered at the moment. The building of Mariánska elementary school is one of them.”

“It will only be on the basis of an energy audit, which will assess the real possibilities of the increase in energy efficiency of each individual building, that particular structures will be chosen. Naturally, all this will be done with regard to the relation between the financial demands and their lifespan, technical condition, social necessity, cultural and architectonic value.”

The sportshall in Prievidza

On the 22nd of February, a city council meeting of the city of Prievidza was held. While discussing the proposal of co-financing the renovation of the basketball court decking in the city’s sportshall, the question of a possible renovation of the whole building was brought up, and whether or not it can be done in the near future.

The mayor Katarína Macháčková answered with a statement that it indeed was in the plan to renovate, within the coal region’s overall transformation. Building insulation, facade and overall complex reconstruction is being discussed. It was also said that it is one of the main projects that are being prepared right now or in the near future. The city is actively trying to find the funds and will be applying for funding.

The proposal of co-funding the court decking change was approved but, at the same time, it was specified that nergy efficiency was the focus, not building renovation. Because we strongly believe in pursuing both goals at the same time, we think the renovation of the school in Trenčín is an amazing example of how to do and should be replicated as often as possible in Prievidza as well.

Photos of the Industrial-Engineering High School in Trenčín by Michal Lešinský, Pio Keramoprojekt