Nursery in Guastalla: "Design has a positive effect on learning and education
MCA project won the Architectural Competition held in February 2014 for the design and build of the new School in Guastalla District (Reggio Emilia, Italy). The new building replaces two existed schools damaged by the earthquake which stuck the territory in May 2012 and will host up to 120 boys and girls between 0 and 3 years old. It was built with some urgency, and it was so because it also stands as a symbol of the pride of the region of Emilia. It was a collective effort, including the city council, teachers, families, and not least of all, the children.
MCA project is thought to stimulate the child's interaction with the surrounding space according to a vision of "teaching" in which nothing is left to chance, from the distribution of educational areas to the choice of materials of construction, up to the integration between indoor and outside space.
Architectural elements of the new kindergarten by MCA - like the shape of the interior, their organization, the choice of materials, all the sensory perceptions related to the light, the colours, the sounds, the tactile suggestions - are designed taking into account of the pedagogical and educational related to the growth of the child.
Kindergartens are important places because that is where children begin to explore the world and begin to know it. In such places, there should be natural light, as the sun’s messenger, natural materials to enhance tactile sensitivity, colors to help children imagine and draw landscapes. There, nature is seen as the clock of the seasons. Flowers and colors depend on the seasons and give us a sense of nature’s rhythms.
Kindergarten is built with laminated wood, and set on a reinforced concrete base, it guarantees 100% seismic security and 100% environmental safety. These are two factors which are non-negotiable. The idea for this space springs from the literary imagination of Collodi and his story of Pinocchio. Swallowed by a whale, Pinocchio finds, inside its huge belly, Geppetto, and that image then turns into a mother’s womb. This is how we see the kindergarten, as a place to explore, as a place that stimulates the imagination of children, who discover a place where they can imagine other things, such as a big fish, a whale, a game, a slide.
The structure involves the use of natural materials with low environmental impact. In particular, the supporting structure is made up of wooden frame: a safe and ideal material to keep the thermal insulation of the building. Even areas of connection between the classrooms and laboratories are designed to be lived with curiosity and pleasure: along the route there are widening, play and relationship areas, niches where you can stop, transparent elements to watch out or peek activities the other children. So children are driven to discover places that are complex and at the same time familiar, where they can develop abilities through special features of each.
Starting from the internal signs, it also articulated the sensory journey outside the building, which integrates the existing trees and encompasses the structure creating protected areas for the activities of the children, educators and parents. Actually children have a lot of green space designed by an expert in green landscape. All species are autochthonous and rustic, non-toxic, without thorns, a low in pollen, low impact of maintenance, and management, to easy substitution, to able to deal the shock of a high used area by kids and adults.
The building is one of the first attempts to introduce environmental education. It produces energy from the sun, collects rainwater to irrigate the garden, and uses natural light. The high insulation, the optimal distribution of transparent surfaces, the use of advanced systems for rainwater harvesting and insertion of a photovoltaic system on the roof, will allow the building to minimize the use of mechanical equipment to meet the energy needs of the school. This is all a fundamental part of the educational project, which is that of raising new generations of individuals who will know how to face the environmental challenges of tomorrow.
Actually the new Nursery in Guastalla space: promotes the save and emotive well-doing of child and assistance staff, considering the child developmental characteristics of the child , supporting the idea of active, explorer, researcher child, who learns by his physical and social environment; proposes a flexible space in a context of recognizability of the different areas of activities, educating at the “beauty taste”, giving attention at the masterly use of materials with attention at the environment in its meanings of saving and protection; offers a telling function of discovering and caring of the nature as mother from which you can learn in the value of sign and symbol.
Mario Cucinella is the founder of MCA. With over 20 years of professional practice, MCA has developed extensive experience in architectural design, with particular attention to energy and environmental impact of buildings.
He regularly holds conferences in Italy and abroad, while maintaining an active role in teaching at several universities. In 2016 the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) awarded him an International Fellowship. In 2017 he received the important Honorary Fellowship Award by the American Institute of Architects (AIA).
In 2012 he founded Green Building the Future, a non-profit organization that promotes sustainable development through green architecture and urban regeneration. In 2014 he worked as a tutor with 'Senator for Life' Renzo Piano on the G124 project for the recovery of the suburbs in Italy. Since 2015 he has started in Bologna S.O.S.- School of Sustainability, focused on training new professionals in the field of sustainability.