Pre-school, Kindergarten and Family Center
The project is the winning entry of an international competition.
The competition was issued by the city of Bolzano for two new school buildings and a public square located at the center of a new residential neighborhood planned on the southern outskirts of the city. The preschool, kindergarten and family center is the first of the two schools to be completed and is equipped with a large kitchen at the lower level, serving all the kindergartens within the area.
Taking its cue from the regulating masterplan which outlined at once a curvilinear and rectilinear footprint, the two-story building bends and sways to accommodate the three programmatic functions into one structure and opens up on the inside with three outdoor courts of varying sizes. These bamboo-lined courts make for a transparent, light-filled interior and provide a common buffer-space between the various schools that delineates each program with their own distinct, dedicated areas.
In dialogue with the various stakeholders of the building, particular attention was paid to the intersecting discourse between pedagogical and architectural considerations and as a result, the design proposes a number of strategies to stimulate the interchange between the spaces of the school and the various didactic approaches.
Sectional changes in height, together with variegated natural lighting solutions provide not only different scales of spaces but also different qualities of those spaces. The courts themselves are closed rooms open to the sky that affirm all kinds of learning possibilities. On one occasion one of the courts was transformed into a rabbit habitat where the kids could tend to them. Furthermore, many surfaces within the activity rooms are themselves sites of exploration for the children, offering different ways in which to engage the senses of touch, sight, and sound. This variation of spatial and surface conditions works at the didactic level in many ways, providing places of solitary-parallel and/or cooperative play.
The interiors of the three constituent programs use a palette of warm hues and materials to create a “quiet” and comfortable environment in both visual and acoustical terms. The corridors are clad with an oak-paneled wainscoting below and a series of textile-clad, sound absorption panels.
This wood wainscoting is threaded throughout the building and in combination with acoustic gyp-board and acoustic textile-clad discs, the school remains a comfortable place with radiant floor heating and radiant cooling in the exposed concrete slab construction of the ceilings.