Ponzano Primary School is designed for 375 children aged from 6 to 10. It has 15 classrooms and special classrooms for art, music, computer, language and science, a gymnasium, a canteen and a library.
Inside the sprawl of the Veneto Region, where Ponzano is settled, this Primary School constitutes a new node, a meeting place for the whole community. Part of the building (the gymnasium and some of the classrooms) is in fact accessible by everybody in the after-school hours.
The school becomes a ‘society building’ where collective spaces are very important. Firstly, in the general outline: all spaces are gathered around a central square, memory of the monastic cloisters (in the common memory they are the places of past knowledge preservation). Then, also in the design of the building’s section: all the spaces face each other (though maintaining their specificity like the classrooms which are opaque until cm 130 and glazed above, allowing the children to exhibit their work towards the common spaces) and are reflected by the transparent and coloured walls.
This complexity reminds us the model of the industrial districts in Veneto where people are incited to learn from each other by exchanging experiences.
The school becomes a ‘society building’, a space of possible multietnic exchange and comparison. It becomes a threshold, were to keep together a landscape of memory and a landscape of contemporary.
In this project memory is represented by a remind to cultivation, the red coloured ‘barchessas’ of the Veneto Region. The contemporary is linked to the Benetton factories (which are in the plot nearby) and their culture of good design and philosophy spreading colour democracy all over the world.
In this sense the school design becomes the scenograpy of a dream (of a fairytail would the children say) where the main characters are the children together with their teachers and the comunity around the school.
During the design phase we wrote and illustrated a story with six panels to explain the project to the children and organised a web site (www.nuovascuola ponzano.it) where everybody could find all the materials of the project.
This partecipation activity was followed by visits to the construction site.
The design of the elevation is offered by a thin filigree. It sews together the roof and the ground and transforms the elevation in a deeper threshold designed by the shadows of the red bend pillars on the wood and glass wall inside the arcade where all the classrooms are open towards.
The arcade is also the screen against the sun together with a system of rolling curtains (mounted on a metallic structure) which automatically unroll under the control of the BMS system.
Another design topic is that of intervisibility. We are convinced that children can learn very well also copying one from the other (this is the reason why also the classrooms’ walls are glazed and can easily become windows exposing the children’s works.
Due to his huge volume, the gymnasium has been dag in the ground and natural light is brought inside modelling the ground with new enbankments.
The classrooms where the children spend most of their time face south-east and south-west so as to improve their daylight exposure.
Thanks to a judicious orientation, a thick insulation, a green roof and sophisticated technologies (geothermal heating, photovoltaic panels, natural ventilation chimneys, BMS: building automation system) the school consumes only 3.6 kWh/mc/year, reaching the Italian Class A+ efficiency rating with a building cost of only 960 euro/sqm including furniture: a proof that the very strong economic and functional requirements of an educational building are compatible with energetic efficiency and high quality interior spaces.
The six topics which the design is founded on are:
1. Context: the ‘red thread’ which sews the roof to the ground is a large arcade facing south, memory of Veneto Region Barchessas. Memory is also linked to the typological choice of organising the spaces around a courtyard, reminding the spaces where the monks have preserved our culture.
2. Materials and colours: Materials and colours used for the external design are those of the Veneto Region tradition rural buildings. But inside the colour becomes a code to use the space as we usually do in our school projects: green is the colour of relation spaces and dark grey that of special spaces. Natural wood and graphic design is used to recognise the other spaces.
3. Center and thresholds. The courtyard is the centre of the project. As a ‘roman domus’ every space is facing the courtyard itself. The thresholds are also very important. The most important is the arcade.
4. Transparency and society. The school is a democratic space. It is the space of work and relationship, comparing ideas and experiences.
5. Polifunctional. We like to use the metaphore of the city to speak about the school.
6. Sustanability. The school energetic consume is 3,6 kwh/mc/year and it costed only 960 €/sqm.
Location: Ponzano Veneto, Italy
Architect: C+S Associati | Carlo Cappai, Maria Alessandra Segantini
Assistants: Guido Stella, Mauro Tonello, Andrea Dal Ferro, Nicola Di Pietro, Giulia Riso, Fabiana Aneghini, Matteo Bandiera
Structures, installation and work supervision: Favero & Milan Ingegneria s.r.l.
Graphic Project: Italo Lupi
Illustrations of the tale: Roberta Gorni
Contractor: Paccagnan s.p.a.
Design Coordination: Bruno Cisilotto
Client: Comune di Ponzano Veneto, Ponzano Patrimonio e Servizi
Floor Area: 4.102 sqm
Photographers: Alessandra Bello, Pietro Savorelli
Awards / exibitions:
Biennale of Architecture “People meet in architecture” 2010, Italian Pavillon
Triennale di Milano, Exibition Green Life
Sfide 2009 Prize of the Italian Ministry of Landscape and Environment, Winner
WA Awards, Winner of the 7th Cycle
Equivivere Prize 2010, Winner