AS.IN.O – AUT–AUT

architect_ aut–aut
team_ Gabriele Capobianco, Edoardo Capuzzo Dolcetta,
Jonathan Lazar, Damiano Ranaldi
program_ Nursery School and Botanical Garden
location_  Selargius (CA) – Italy
project year_ 2016
award_ first prize

from the architects_ 

Scuole Innovative is an international design competition launched in May 2016 by the Italian Ministry of Education (MIUR). The competition concerned the design of 51 innovative and sustainable schools scattered around the whole country, to be implemented thanks to the 350 million euro funding provided by the 107 “Buona Scuola” law in 2015.
The Municipality of Selargius requested the design of a nursery school combined with a botanical garden, wishing to realise an open and lively school, close to the children’s needs and projected towards the whole community.

Abstract:
The project is strongly influenced by the observation of the current material context and by the study of the historical one. More specifically, a decline of the urban form has been detected in the latest expansions of Selargius, therefore the project tries to propel a reflection around the practice of making cities through the study of the traditional local typologies.
The layout is based on the model of the double courtyard house typical of the Campidano meridionale area. The plot is wrapped by a perimetral wall behind which the canopies and fronds of the trees pop up raising the magic and mysterious aura of the hortus conclusus. The kindergarten, just like the house of the traditional typology, splits the plot in two sections: the wider one hosts the botanical garden while a slimmer strip is dedicated to the children.
The structure is formally generated by the perimetral enclosure that folds and articulates the inner spaces of the school.
The wall itself enlarges in several inhabited sections dedicated to the servant spaces. The local tradition has inspired also the materialization. The use of rammed earth has been indeed reintroduced and re-elaborated. This material evokes the connection of the building to the place, to the tradition, and to the soil, becoming an important pedagogical element.
Moreover, it provides great thermal performances together with simplicity and cost-effectiveness of construction.

Concept:
The project is strongly influenced by the observation of the current material context and by the study of the historical one. More specifically, a decline of the urban form has been detected in the latest expansions of Selargius, therefore the project tries to propel a reflection around the practice of making cities through the study of the traditional local typologies.
The educational building fulfills a double role. On the one hand, the children elaborate their experience of the world and construct their cognitive, social, and environmental reference points through the observation, exploration, and interaction with objects, spaces, and people. On the other hand the building itself fosters a critical reflection concerning the anthropic environment. All this appears especially true when the educational building is integrated, as in this very case, with public facilities that turn it both into a reference point for the local community and into a landmark capable of attracting a wider range of users.
The layout is based on the model of the double courtyard house typical of the Campidano meridionale area. The plot is wrapped by a perimetral wall behind which the canopies and fronds of the trees pop up raising the magic and mysterious aura of the hortus conclusus. The kindergarten, just like the house of the traditional typology, splits the plot in two sections: the wider one hosts the botanical garden while a slimmer strip is dedicated to the children.

Urban Layout and Accesses:
The main access is positioned on via della Resistenza at the junction with viale Vienna, where a stop of the light-rail is planned. On top of a light ramp an enclosed and furnished plaza opens up remaining always accessible. Both the entrance of the kindegarten and of the botanical garden face this plaza.
Car parking is provided along via della Resistenza where is also placed a logistic access to the kindergarten, while the service access for the botanical garden is positioned on via Pira.

The Kindergarten:
The building tries to fulfill the requirements expressed in the brief. Most of them pertain indeed both to an embraceable pedagogic approach (the relation with nature, the experiential learning) and the definition of spaces (the agora, the ateliers).
The structure is formally generated by the perimetral enclosure that folds and articulates the inner spaces of the school. The wall itself enlarges in several inhabited sections dedicated to the servant spaces.The local tradition has inspired also the materialization. The use of rammed earth has been indeed reintroduced and re-elaborated.
This material evokes the connection of the building to the place, to the tradition, and to the soil, becoming an important pedagogical element. Moreover, it provides great thermal performances together with simplicity and cost-effectiveness of construction.

The Entrance:
The entrance leads to a filter space from which it’s possible to access the agora, the teachers’ room, and the lockers room that is directly connected to the agora through a child-size door.

The Agora:
The agora develops in visual and spatial continuity with the botanical garden, interrelating functional, typological, and organisational aspects. This flexible and dynamic space offers different spatial episodes: the wide and open area fosters group activities and exchanges, while small and cosy inlets encourage one to one relations.
The agora extends into the dining hall and is directly connected to the children’s yard and to the botanical garden whose public paths are kept at a protective distance from the windows of the school in order to guarantee the indispensable privacy.
Furthermore, the agora acts as a climatic device capable of regulating the inner comfort both during summer and winter. In the cold season the greenhouse captures the solar radiation that, beyond heating up the space, is absorbed and successively released by the rammed earth wall, avoiding a severe day-night thermal excursion.

During summer a shading system allows to avoid direct radiation. At night a ventilation system allows for the cooling down of the temperature of the inner spaces. Moreover, the night cooling down of the wall can decrease the inner temperature the day after.
In daytime hot air is extracted through several solar chimneys integrated in the rammed-earth wall.

The Ateliers:
Five ateliers and a smaller classroom are directly accessible from the agora. These spaces are separated by wooden partitions that integrate a characteristic furniture for each thematic workshop (music, figurative art, linguistic, scientific, play).
All the ateliers overlook the children’s yard through full-height windows that guarantee natural lighting. The restrooms are placed in the inhabited wall that divides the classrooms from the agora.

Sustainability and Bioarchitecture:
The project aims to realise an environmentally responsible and resource-efficient building. Several actions are implemented to fulfill this commitment, including both passive (rammed earth heat accumulator, natural ventilation, low-E glazing, sedum green roofing, shading systems, appropriate insulation with natural material) and active processes (geothermal pumps, hybrid solar panels). Moreover, great attention has been paid in reducing water consumption and in the implementation of water recycling systems.

Botanical Garden:
The botanical garden has been inspired by the medieval hortus conclusus: gardens connected to a monastery or a cloister enclosed by high continuous walls, where monks used to cultivate fruit trees and medicinal plants. The choice of an enclosed and introverse garden has also been guided by the courtyards of the local typologies that, from outside, recall the mysterious aura of these medieval gardens. The paths are generated taking the agora as matrix and establish a continuity between interior and exterior. At the center of the park a small lake allows the harvesting of rainwater and the display of waterplants. Toward the edges the terrain, hosting denser plants, is lifted in order to extend the perception of its depth.