A kindergarten with no corridors giving children a sense of community
The analysis of the urban fabric of Sirolo and Numana resulted in a project that respected the morphology of the context, by working on micro-pavilions rather than on a single compact building. The latter, although representing the most frequent design of school buildings, would have resulted in a volume that is out of scale as to the nearby residential buildings.
The design is based on overlapping blocks that belong to an elementary and archetypal geometry. The Archetype, the act of building as real play along with an investigation on the concept of boundary and its crossing are the principles the project design stems from. The layout is generated by sliding base blocks and overlapping cut ones.
This system of interlocking elements allowed us to present an innovative design including all the individual classrooms, independent of each other, that converge in a hybrid space made of corridors and spaces for gathering. In this way, a greater interaction and involvement between the classrooms shall be experienced, while replacing the classic 'corridor + classrooms opening along it' scheme. The teaching areas shall be divided into several sections, with courtyards and gardens in between them.
Each hall-classroom enjoys a double exposure that allows to open the protected area of the classroom onto the green outdoor space, thus optimizing and cutting down 'passive' spaces.
The design layout also provides for roofs developing similarly to those of the surrounding fabric. This choice is inspired by the belief that a nursery school or kindergarten must be simply associated to the image of the house and at the same time rise to be like a "metaphor of the world", in order to have the correct educational and pedagogical value. The project includes both characteristics, passing from the single classroom block to the microcosm of the school “village”, where children perceive they are part of a community and begin to see themselves as individuals but also as members of a group.
The design scheme favours a more dynamic and interactive school life, also through multifunctional areas intended for common activities. Each classroom relates to the outside in such a way as to identify areas with different characteristics and stimuli, making the school more appropriate for a kindergarten than a classic complex of primary or secondary school.
In fact, in primary and secondary schools the teaching space is mainly made up of classrooms linked by corridors - pure and simple connecting spaces -. The classrooms - the center of the activity - are conceived as a democratic set of workstations in which individual desks are fixed and all enjoy as much as possible in similar conditions such as seeing and being close to the teacher’s desk and blackboard, lighting (as neutral, uniform and constant as possible), while perceiving the 'rest', of the outside world, which is not a desk and a chair, in the most neutral and irrelevant way as possible. In a nursery school, while still talking about “school” and teacher-pupil relationship, the dynamics and some principles are profoundly different, so that the teaching space cannot be designed in the same way.
The greater dynamism, the variety of activities, the absence of fixed workstations, and the relationship between teachers and pupils and among pupils themselves lead to a very different spatial configuration. The relationship between individuals and the surrounding space is different.
In the "School Without Corridor" project, the classroom space has an introverted, more protected part and a part opening onto the outside. This is why the openings are designed to create a double type of space, one which is more intimate and one which is open; one is a protected space, like a refuge, a nest, while the other is opened like a view on the world and others; it is already an "outside".
One of the key principles which we decided to set the design on is the desire to go "beyond the classroom" to also take advantage of the corridors, which must not be conceived only as transit and connection spaces rather as spaces where it is possible to carry out shared and playful activities. This allows for the enlargement of the single classroom when a larger space is needed for activities involving the whole school.
In this case it is possible to speak about the "learning street" model where standard corridors are widened to host learning activities; classrooms are in very close relation to the space facing them and separated with sliding panels and transparencies; in this way children can carry out activities outside the classroom under the supervision of the teacher inside it.
As to the construction technology, the structure and the curtain walls are made of wood.
The range of finishing materials is limited; a self-cleaning plaster on the outside with same color on the wall and on the slopes, while on the inside - in contrast - there is a wooden boiserie made of Arauco Pine panels, bleached and finished with natural oil, just like all the floors except for the restrooms. Different colours also highlight the external-internal cold-hot, rough-smooth contrast, to achieve the best balance of a space that must be both stimulating, attractive but also harmonious to foster children’s concentration.
"The chance to aesthetically re-educate the community can also arise from the choice of shapes and geometric forms". Simone Subissati, Architect
Simone Subissati Architects is a multidisciplinary research lab of residential and public architecture. It’s finalist for the Mies Van de Rohe Award 2022, takes part in the Architecture Biennale of Venice 2021 - Italian Best Practice Section - obtains numerous publications and covers on Italian and international magazines and an Honorable Mention Compasso d'Oro International Award in 2015.
The training of architect Simone Subissati is from the Florentine school, where he was a pupil by Remo Buti and Gianni Pettena, among the founders of the Italian Radical neo-avant-gardes.
He specialized in Bioclimatic Architecture and Sustainable Design with Prof. Arch. Marco Sala, one of the first professorships in Italy to deepen these disciplines. He lives and works between Ancona and Milan where he founded the Simone Subissati Architects studio.