“A contemporary school must be a privileged place for knowledge transmission, a civic centre and a point of reference for the community”.
A new scientific high school for the metropolitan area of Florence is a design challenge that can inevitably be resolved at a formal level through a synthesis of the territorial context’s emergencies. But it can also be a challenge for the territory itself that must establish strong synergies between the institutions that govern it to improve the building, school/cultural and work of the area. Settanta7 has designed the new Scientific “Anna Maria Enriques Agnoletti” High School in Sesto Fiorentino with this aim: an attractive and welcoming architecture, whose transparency and sinuosity create a symbiotic relationship between the learning spaces and the new urbanization context.
The new high school is situated in a Florentine plain former agricultural context and develops in one single elongated volume, made up of three blocks, two with a teaching/educational function and one dedicated to the gym.
The solidity of the blocks is interrupted by demi-courts which open up towards the scenery and are sloped so as to recall the directors of the country church present on the lot; the orientation of these pits also guarantees a perfect lighting of the learning spaces.
If on the one hand, the three blocks have been positioned in a consistent manner, with the urban grid already established, on the other hand, the search for alignment with the church present in site and with an east-west orientation has generated the rotation of volumes and the creation of three courts, access and reception areas for all users.
The building is developed on three floors above ground around the south court and on two around the north court. The rotation of the volumes has generated some terraces with a green covering that recalling the farming landscape reduces the carbon footprint of the new construction, as well as representing an ulterior educational space for students. on which overlook the large perimeter glass walls of the east front.
The school is designed to accommodate 900 students in 35 classrooms and 5 labs.
The ground floor of the school constitutes a space which is open to the local community. It’s divided into an auditorium, a coffee house and a library, as well as offices and labs: thanks to these activities the school will fully become a Civic Centre. Using European community schools as a reference, the interiors have been designed inspired by creativity, entrepreneurship and student-teacher cooperation; the fluid and flexible distributive spaces encourage informal relationships and innovative educational approach.
The spaces dedicated to “frontal teaching” are mainly housed on the east front, achieving greater lighting performance and internal comfort control.
Environmental considerations characterise the whole project. With its reinforced concrete structure, the building displays important energy saving technological systems: a 140 KWp photovoltaic system, a mechanically controlled ventilation system in all areas, an insulated enclosure and a solar input reduction system through screenline.
The outdoor area foresees columns for green electronic vehicles and bicycle stands in protected areas, “Because it’s not just the building project itself that sends a clear message about a more environmentally friendly way of planning and living, but also the way of reaching the school” – explain the architects.
Because of the surrounding artifacts, different characters have been chosen for the different fronts. On the western front a continuous facade, with a higher percentage of glass areas compared to opaque portions, as a sign of openness and welcome towards the user and the community; a configuration that poses itself in relation to the cycle path, to traffic and pedestrian mobility and to the nearby green area. labs, with their rigorous and functional character, are towards the East and this has determined an inversion in the transparent/opaque proportion.
The labs are located on the faceted fronts of the courts.
Ample emphasis has also been given to the design of connective spaces; which are not only used for the movement of students but also for organizing complementary educational activities.
The diffuse library, individual reading spaces and for group discussions, free time, meetings and tutoring were born this way, within the connectedness, as satellites that punctuate and enhance communal spaces.
The two main stairs are in fact the heart of the interior’s project: characterized by a double height, they represent the places of vertical connection, where it’s possible for students to build relationships and grow beyond the classroom.
A CONI certified gym and a flexible auditorium complete the school’s equipment. The entrance system is designed for the use of collective spaces even outside the school, in the multifunctional prospective of serving not only the school but also Sesto’s community
“The project took only 15 months, which is very little considerering Italian public works” – explain the architects.