NEW SCHOOL COMPLEX
The proposal for the new school complex in Sassa (L’Aquila) - Italy, has been awarded with the 1st prize of the jury.
The design of the new school complex is inspired by the frame structures for the children's climbing game. The metaphor of the game wants to transmit values of freedom and social aggregation as a fundamental value for a dynamic and innovative teaching.
The project includes kindergarten, primary and secondary school, gym and a multifunctional building. It is conceived as a civic center that integrates a school activity into one large number of services open to the community in which students, parents and citizens have a chance to become active protagonists. The aim is to create a space with complementary activity in a unique school complex.
The project proposes a measured intervention that confronts the landscape through simple geometries, attention to proportions and the use of natural materials. The architectural system presents a dynamic structure of independent volumes decomposed in space that guarantee a continuous relationship between inside and outside, between educational spaces and open courts on the natural landscape.
The Chessboard planimetric system
The system presents a dynamic conformation of the plan, that allows the space to freely create public or private areas and the best relation between both internal and external spaces and teaching areas and open courtyard. The chessboard structure designs variations on the façade project and on the roofs of the different buildings, giving formal independency.
The Common Areas
About the design of the School Complex, one really important element is the design of common areas: the chessboard spatial design allows defining a system of open courts which limits areas for common use: squares, public gardens, semipublic and appurtenant.
Even the interior spaces of individual buildings are equipped with a series of common areas like the atrium-agora, the common room and the practicable rooftops: they are flexible spaces, thought as ateliers, with modular furnishing, to satisfy any activity.
The external frame, inspired by climbing games, performs multiple functions: defines a pergola that becomes the connecting element between the different buildings, preventing the classrooms facing south from direct sunlight by brise soleil systems and pergolas. Finally it is a filter element between the buildings and the gardens.
Relationship between internal and external spaces
The buildings’ ground floor level presents mostly glass facades which give value to the visual transparency of the School Complex and also the physical relations in the external spaces, whereas the upper floors are characterized by more closed and compact facades, enhancing the alternation between full and empty spaces.
Due to the glass facades, all the classrooms have the strong relation to internal and external spaces and have also the opportunity, in summer time, to enlarge their spaces outside, working and studying under the porch.
Relationship with nature
The project brings nature into the building thanks to the windows opened to the surrounding landscape. In addition, the outdoor spaces of the school complex are designed as a theme park where students can experience directly the variety of plants species and to study their life cycle. The green element therefore takes on a pedagogical value that accompanies students every day in the use of space education and in school life in line with the approach introduced by Montessori.
The roofs of the buildings of the school complex form an articulated system with different heights, shape and functions. The gym has a shed covering that ensures widespread of indoor lighting from the north and contributes to draw a skyline that is inspired by the surrounding mountains.
The roof of the multifunctional building is equipped with the photovoltaic panels that supply electricity to the entire school campus, while the school buildings are characterized by a green roof. In particular, on the coverage of the kindergarten, there is a playground for playing outdoors while on the roof of secondary school there are vegetable gardens and greenhouses in which the students can learn about the cultivation
The park project plays a primary role in the redefining of the new Sassa school complex where the natural space is also important as a place of learning full of incitement and fun.
The annual circles of the tree trunks become generators of the landscape project as a conceptual metaphor, as a symbolic image of the growth of children and also formal in which the walk continues to crown the school complex and it is enriched with activities and equipment along the way.
The green frame is the hinge element of the outer belt of the external ring that, in addition to acting as a visual filter to the outside and to the parking area, creates a constantly evolving magical place where light, filtering in different ways, contributes to the perception of this space as fascinating, mysterious and generating spectacular scenery.
The gardens and the squares
In addition to the external ring, it is designed another level of paths, linked with gardens and squares, each one with its proper elements and identities.
The outdoor classroom is a space suitable for conducting open-air educational activities in which the green and its various forms are a predominant element, but they can also be used for play or as a small stage for school performances during the warmer season.
The garden of the educational orchard with its small vegetable gardens in colored boxes, give the children the possibility to learn the nature cycles, take care of it and collect the fruits during the different seasons.
The Welcome Square is a large pergola space that it does filter between inside and outside where you can eat, play, socialize. Creepers shield the sun's rays, thus generating well-being even in the hottest months, varying colors, scents and sensations as the seasons change.
The sport garden integrates outdoor sport spaces paved with green and the colored concrete flooring allows you to have a joyful and fun space.
Flexibility and interdisciplinarity
The indoor spaces of the school complex are designed as a stimulating landscape, in which every student develops his autonomy and curiosity. All environments, formal and informal, enable an active involvement of the student, leaving space to the creativity of the individual who freely chooses how to appropriate himself spaces. In this sense many areas of the school complex are transformative, they adapt to the needs through modular furniture, movable walls, curtains, etc.
The atrium - agora
All the school buildings are characterized by an entrance hall which, in addition to the functions of control, reception and sorting of flows, is structured as a common space to live, a real indoor square. This space is designed to be a multipurpose space, in which many different activities happen.
The primary and secondary school hall is designed as a hybrid space: it can host students’ work exhibitions, workshop or just simply be a space for studying. A large stair, which, in a first hand, leads up to the first floor, defines the hall but it could also be, in a second hand, a small auditorium to accommodate small recitals, cineforums… It is conceived as a library with open book shelves with the books under the seats.
In the kindergarten, the four sections overlook the hall, a playful and collective space, where the kids can freely act. There is also an atelier for the creative activity and the canteen, with her modular and stackable furnishing, can offer more space to learn, play or just stay. The space is also defined by a coloured spiral staircase that leads up to the roof level, a new playground.
The spread / diffused library
The library of the new school complex is defined as an open book shelves space, designed by movable or fixed furnishing in the public areas (hall, common class, informal spaces), where the student can freely walk, freely decide where to sit, which space more fit his needs, he can read alone or in company. Thanks to a hand scanner, the students will be able to check out independently the books.
The “home base” classroom
The classroom is thought as an “home base” defined by deep flexibility and variability depending to the use: the movable and modular furnishing give the possibility to change the settings of the classroom according to the different teaching activity, ensuring the carrying out of activities in small or medium-sized groups, discussion and brainstorming, teacher exhibitions, presentations by the students, exercises involving the whole class etc…
The use of movable walls allows to the class to expand by involving the interchange spaces and common spaces, making the borders very flexible. Also the presence of sliding doors allows the connection between the classrooms that are interconnected, thus facilitating the development of inter-class activities.
Finally on the ground floor outdoor classrooms are expected, partly protected by the porch, designed as the extensions of the classrooms to the outside and nature.
The common class
It is the heart of the school building, a space designed as an extension of the "home base" class that can be experienced in a multitude of ways.
In primary school it is considered as a space where you can gather to carry out collective activities by arranging the modular furniture according to different conformations, you can take a book from mobile shelves and read it on
comfortable poufs, you can play computer or watch a video on a tablet, listen to music on your MP3 player or relax by observing the surrounding landscape from the window.
The common secondary school hall hosts special activities such as art and technology workshops. A "doing" space, flexible and reconfigurable that favors teaching based on manual skills.
The laboratories are spaces confined and acoustically insulated that accommodate the most specialized, noisy functions, etc. Conceived as the "spaces of doing" that favor the manual teaching and learning by doing. These spaces, present in the secondary school, are thought of as small artisan workshops where they can have direct experiences on different subjects such as music and science. The furniture is inspired by the artisan work places with work benches where they can "get their hands dirty", tools and technological machines that allow the students to express their creativity in the different fields.
The environmental sustainability of the project is developed on many levels, both active and passive.
From the point of view of the passive technologies, the planimetric system has been defined with great attention, with respect to which all the classrooms are exposed to the south and shielded by frames with sunblinds on the facade. In this way the contribution of light and heat was limited in the summer, while allowing the sun's rays to penetrate the winter environments, maximizing the natural and passive energy input.
The use of wood as a raw material allows zero environmental impact: for this, during the production phase, wood absorbs CO2 and does not produce any form of pollution; it also promotes healthiness and comfort in inhabited spaces.
Even the material used in the flooring, linoleum, as well as offering adequate levels of comfort, because it determines a warm and non-rigid surface, it comes from the use of natural raw materials such as jute, linseed oil and wood fiber, and is certified for overall healthiness.
The project is conceived as a system of 5 independent buildings connected by an autonomous and self-supporting porch. This system has been designed in order to be able to manage the building site in 2 or more stages of construction.