Education is more than a matter of school life and experiences: it is a physical journey from one place to another, through a space capable of fostering a new balance between rurality, technological experimentation and future employment. H-FARM Campus, a higher education center in the Treviso countryside along the River Sile, is one such place. A veritable architectural, managerial, relational and skills continuum, it is located on a 30 ha-plot of land adjacent to the HQ of the H-FARM company, promoter of this international innovation platform.
The underlying concept for Zanon Architetti Associati’s master plan and architectural design was the recovery of an age-old connection with the environment in a forward-looking way, without distorting the genius loci and at the same time promoting a different way of experiencing the education process. Safeguarding the local area took precedence over anthropization, in the form of a zero-cubic capacity site that offers a new learning landscape through smart, stimulating use of technology. By recovering structures and demolishing a former military barracks, the site was returned to nature in active form, enabling nature to be an integral part of a total of eight buildings, plus service volumes.
Accessed via a single-story structure, the campus features three school buildings, a director’s office, a student residence with bistro, sports facilities, and an iconic library-auditorium, all of which are connected by a network of pedestrian pathways. The elementary school’s façade is an alternation of full and empty spaces enriched with plants and shrubs. A circular building embraces a kind of internal cloister with sightlines to some of the features common to all buildings, an embodiment of the philosophy of achieving a fusion between nature and architecture, while eschewing impassable perimeters. The secondary education building is more linear, its open-air corridors overlooking meadows and woodland, with colorful, welcoming furnishings much like ones for younger children.
Despite their different functions, the university building and student residence with its greenhouse refreshment area both share common spaces equipped with ample windows to ensure natural lighting. The furnishings – largely made of birch wood and metal – are interspersed with plants.
A large central auditorium with full-height glass walls is the building that symbolizes nature’s total embrace of architecture. Designed in partnership with Rogers Stirk Harbour Studio, it features an expanse of lawn that rises up onto the roof and then descends on the far side. Inside is a first-floor library with custom furnishings and a restaurant. Every room continues the dialogue with the landscape via colors (from green to yellow and orange), organic shapes (including ceilings with exposed installations), and open spaces with isles of private armchairs and tables.
The mainly flat roofs make photovoltaic panel installation straightforward, continuing a thread that runs through Zanon Architetti Associati studio projects: at this campus and elsewhere, the firm focuses on humans experiencing nature as a way of seeking change, creating habitats for the upcoming generations with an eye to the past and the future.
Location: Roncade, Treviso, Italy
Client: Fondo “Cà Tron – H-Campus” (Finint Investments SGR)
Building Area: 27,000 m2
Site Area: 300,000 m2
Masterplan, Architecture, Interior Design and Landscape: ZAA Zanon Architetti Associati
Multifunctional Building Architecture Project: Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners with ZAA Zanon Architetti Associati
Art Director: Mariano Zanon
Construction Management: DBA Progetti
Main Contractor: Carron
Structural: Studio di ingegneria RS
Services Engineering: Manens-Tifs, DBA Progetti
Photography by Marco Zanta, courtesy of Zanon Architetti Associati
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