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Sant’Andrea School complex

Building relationships, reinforcing identity

MoDus Architects

Though the little villages lining the steep slopes of the Isarco Valley in Italy’s South Tyrol can still boast compact historic centers, like many small centers they too have frayed out to form a series of interconnected communities overlooking the town of Brixen - Bressanone in Italian. The little town of Sant’Andrea is no exception: a characteristic densely packed old town center beyond which lies a medley of private homes and small businesses randomly interspersed by farmland. Revamping the school was an opportunity to give these scattered urban communities a unifying facility, a civic hub open all year round that, together with the church would help consolidate a sense of identity. Hailing from Brixen, architecture practice MoDus have put their deep knowledge of the region and vast public sector experience to good use when transforming the site of the town’s former school into a multipurpose building, a facility for all the inhabitants of the surrounding areas. The project won the competition thanks to its clear, efficiently organized program that included the addition of a new volume to replace the pre-existing school, and to the practice’s ability to work with traditional local building techniques. The new building houses a kindergarten, a primary school, a library and a large gym that also doubles as a multipurpose hall. Although articulated in section to afford independent access points for each function, internal connections allow free circulation of all users. The center’s role as a community focal point is clearly evident in the program, which pointedly relates the new architecture to public spaces - a series of outdoor playgrounds and public squares - to create a continuum with the streets and alleys of the old town. The project’s two-level plan navigates the site’s change in grade, creating two superimposed volumes reminiscent of the region’s tradition farmhouses, known as masi. The upper-level...

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