The kindergarten in Busta, a small district of Montebelluna (in Treviso province, near Venice), is centrally located in the regenerated heart of the town. The new building replaces the old, temporary construction in a position that is the fulcrum for the civic centre, parish church, football pitch and playground.
The underlying goal of the design was to create a building that would help guide and accompany the learning process for the children, aged 3 to 5, by producing a place where they would be happy to spend time and that would facilitate continuity in their growth in experience. It was important to integrate the natural world, light and the sensations inherent in spending time in the school. The architecture plays almost a collaborative role in this, with plenty of space for the indoor pathways, for correlated activities and for educational freedom. The interior is a creative, functional and expressive zone in which the way the rooms and materials are perceived contributes to the educational process, drawing the children in.
There are specific areas and sectors, but also connections between these elements, in an approach that produces the sensation of expansion and contraction, almost like a living being. The central nucleus is not only the distribution hub for the building, but also a space in itself that can be extended and, thanks to the use of coloured sections on the floor, used for differing activities, including play space. These different colours provide sensorial stimulus and consolidate the copious use of colour that underscores the kindergarten's name: Arcobaleno (or rainbow). The three classrooms run parallel, facing south with skylights that can be opened. The teachers' spaces and ancillary areas are on the west side, while the canteen and space used for physical literacy are opposite the classrooms, facing north east. The plan suggests contact and meeting people. It also creates relations between time and space, as the fluid, organic flow of light and air helps reinforce the concept of change and growing in experience, thus reiterating the key connection between the space and education.
The building incorporates a number of key relations: natural light - from above and the sides - is used to shape the various types of space and so becomes a creative element; the ventilation is also controlled, in part through the use of the skylights that fit fluidly into the shape of the ceiling and allow the building to cool at night during the hot summer months; and the devices and means used to control energy use, lighting and heat insulation are designed to be functionally integrated - in the broad sense - into the building. The architecture is the result of an integrated, multi-faceted exploration. The composition of space is defined by the central assumption of a harmonious formation of the interior. The development of the elevations focuses on distinct sectors. The windows for the teachers' rooms and the service areas lend the building an upbeat rhythm. The rounded volume with a spiral design, location of the bathrooms for the children, is an innovative, functional and controllable space that extends outwards, amplifying the translucent appearance of the central elevation on the eastern façade. The sun loggias, another fundamental architectural feature, define the elevations and perform differing functions depending on the season. In the cold winter, when closed, they help accumulate heat, but in summer, when open, they provide protection from the sun.
Location: Montebelluna (Treviso Province)
Client: Comune di Montebelluna (TV)
Gross Floor Area: 809 m2
Cost of Construction: 843.037 Euros
Architects: Luisa Fontana, FONTANAtelier
Works Management: Luisa Fontana, FONTANAtelier
Contractor: Edil – Montelliana
Structural: Semenzin & Sernagiotto
Technical Systems: Planex engineering
Acoustics: A.Tombolato & S.Cordeddu
Glass: AGC Glass Europe
Plaster Work: Fassa Bortolo
Floor Render: Mapei
Photography: © Marco Zorzanello
Luisa Fontana, born in Zurich, graduated with top marks at the Venice IUAV.
In the Nineties she set up her practice at Schio, Venice, where she works to public and private commission, ranging from industrial and interior design to urban design and residential, school, hospital, commercial, cultural and religious building.
For the engineering development of her projects she turns to international engineering firms like Arup, with whom she has developed pilot schemes in the field of sustainability and energy saving. Attentive to the subject of accessibility, she is a member of C.E.R.P.A. (European Centre for Research into and Promotion of Accessibility).
She has been an assistant professor and visiting professor at the Venice IUAV, as well as the Canadian University of Manitoba and the Montreal University École d'Architecture de Paysage.
Her works have been exhibited in Spain at the Barcelona 3rd European Biennal de Paisatge (2003); in China at the Nanjing Museum (2006); at Brazil’s 5th Architecture Biennale (Brasilia 2006); in Japan at the Sendai Mediathèque and the Fukuoka Acros (2007); in Italy at the Acquario Romano for her personal show “LuisaFONTANAtelier. Global Architecture” (2010).
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