Same Old Suit
Pieno e Vuoto
Our proposal recognises the institution of the school as the core and the civic centre of the city. We believe that the most important issue of this project is the way in which the school is situated in the area. Instead of considering the site as a ‘plot’ that need to be occupied, we propose to preserve the valley as big open space, left green – a ‘void’ around which all the activities of the school are organized. Concentrating the built mass on the perimeter, the new school complex becomes the border, the given limit between built and void. In a period marked by heavy ecological crisis and by an unrestrained land consumption, we think that the school complex needs to presents itself as precise form that preserves and frames the landscape not as ‘terrain vague’ but as a common resource and active space for the community. Regarding this issue, we think that the greatest lesson of the contemporary school system is especially the care for the environment seen as a common good. This doesn’t have to be exploited but understood, contemplated and utilised in respect of its characteristics. Every design choice defining this project is driven by this objective.
In our proposal, the buildings that compose the school complex settle on the limit of the site and their footprint follows the natural slope of the area, minimising the needed excavation. Even with formal and typological differences, all the buildings share the same structural span and the same rhythm for the bays that scan both the facades and the interiors. Architectural motifs as galleries, porticos and balconies appear in different variations in every building of the complex.
Rhythm, pedagogy and structure
In our proposal we carefully followed the philosophy of ‘school without backpack’. This philosophy can be summarised in the idea that the space of the school has to be separated and welcoming; it is a space in which students are not only followed by teachers but are also asked to become responsible for themselves and others. From a spatial point of view, this philosophy can be translated into an architecture organised by the fluid space of cooperation rather than from the panoptic relationship between teachers and students – which is typically structuring the traditional classroom.
Thus, we started from the functional scheme of the classroom suggested in the brief and we developed it through a modular and flexible architecture based on a recurrent bay of 3.50m x 7m. This module defines the composition of all the buildings that compose the complex as well as scanning the spatial rhythm of the communal spaces as galleries, balconies, porticos and verandas. We conceived an architecture that is essential, compositionally characterised by the trilithic system and in which the structural scheme is clearly visible and defines the ‘basso continuo’ of all the buildings.
Every room is side by side with an auxiliary space which works as both connective and common space. Willing to avoid to conceive the school as sequence of repetitive rooms, the proposed modular structure enables a flexible use of the partitions. This flexibility is made possible by the use of wood for both the load bearing structure and the light partitions. We also propose a modular building system easily readable from the users which will be able to modify the spaces. We propose to integrate the shelves and the fixed furniture with the walls as much as possible, so that the divisions between the rooms become equipped walls that can be transformed following the different uses. The very concept of integrating structure and furniture into the figure of the ‘shelf’ or ‘board’ is the archetype of our project that becomes visible in various forms and spaces: from the simple trilithic architecture of the balconies, the galleries and the arcades, to the walls of the rooms marked by the rhythm of the joints between the wooden panels and framed by the exposed structure.
Field, olive trees and ‘confetti’
The relationship between the scholastic complex and the surrounding landscape is one of the most important aspects of our project. We believe that the slope that characterises the site, introduces a great opportunity to emphasise the relation between topography and volumes. The landscape of the new scholastic complex is organised in two areas: the vast field with olive trees and the more intimate landscapes between the buildings. The field with olive trees is a pre-existing landscape that we wish to preserve in its entirety, integrate with fruit trees and made accessible through light paths. 16 ‘confetti’ are also strategically placed along these paths. These are small structures made of bricks that work as garden furniture. Inspired by Per Kirbeby’s sculptures, these elements are conceived to be built over time in an incremental way. Their design and construction can involve students and their teachers. These ‘confetti’ are considered as places to rest but also as abstract shapes open to different interpretations and uses. Their disposition follows a grid and invites the user to mentally trace alignments and connections. A part from these light interventions, we propose to leave the open space as field, also to reduce the need for maintenance.
Same Old Suit
Pier Vitorio Aureli and Martino Tattara, with Pierre Menoud, Anna Panourgia, Mariapaola Michelotto