Instead of a large building for childhood we propose a children’s city.
A micro-urbanization made by solid and empty spaces, enclosed and open air areas in the nature
The total surface required is distributed in single pavilions. These tiny units better relate to the dimension of the first small form of society that the child finds in the section. Instead of gravitating around a central enclosed space of distribution, the pavilions institute delicate relationships of proximity and distance, mitigating the impact of the building through a recognizable urban form.
The construction stages
A first evident advantage of this strategy lies in the extreme semplification of a two-steps intervention. The first three classrooms, the entrance and the pavillion for common activities will be constructed in the first stage, while later up to three more classrooms can be realised. This strategy implies that in the future it won’t be necessary to add volumes to the parts already built, permitting a smooth functioning of the kindergarten while the construction site is implemented. The dry construction system (a light timber frame covered by wooden panels) simplifies further on the extension of the institution.
Accessibilty and parkings
From the parking and the “leave&go” areas close to the main entrance it’s possible to reach the children’s city safely, thanks to an accurate distinction of the flows. Controlled thresholds located along the perimetral fence function as gates to the generous and multiform spaces of the kindergarten. The fence and the entrance pavillion contribute in a relevant way in diminishing acoustic and air pollution, separating the classrooms from the crowded road facing the main parking.
Open spaces surfaces
Three materials characterize the different areas of the kindergarten: concrete tiles that allow the growth of the grass in the parking; a half-draining continous surface compatible with lively and unpredictable children’s activities between the pavillions; natural grass among the trees.
A light system, made of vegetation, filtering and draining membranes and water collection pipes, provides thermal insulation, protection from UV rays, and water absorption and collection in underground tanks. The whole system requires low maintenance.
Visual relationships between the pavillions
The windows come one after the other, offering views both of the external spaces and the pavillions. These particular layout allows everyone’s experience of the green areas, wide portions of the sky, the surrounding landscape and the evolution of the seasons. The child gradually raises his consciousness of being part of a community of individuals.
Passing the main entrance, one meets the gardens.These are the areas where various activities mix together: playing, meeting other children, open-air study, learning by doing, cultivating and growing of an ecological consciousness. Instead of segregated gardens, strictly related to single classrooms, the proposal prefigures an articulated space: a territory that dilates and contracts, porous and crossable in all directions. It invites the children to discover and take possess of it. It invites the parents to meet and socialise during their daily percolation towards the children’s classrooms.
The entrance pavillion is the interface with the city. Its position at the limit of the site, next to the parking, optimizes the load/unload and catering activities.
The pavillion hosts a room for the food unpackaging, an administrative space and a dressing room for the teachers, a laundry and services. From here it is possible to control the main entrance while the children arrive and leave the kindergarten.
Every class is an autonomous section, provided with all the equipment to be a self-sufficient pavillion. It hosts all the necessary facilities for a small community of 30 children and their assistants. Around the service core (storage, dressing room and tolilets) unravels a large L-shaped area, generous and versatile, with a potential to dilate the arranged activities space in that of the free ones, and viceversa. The sense of belonging that such a space conveys is counterpointed
by the continous visual contact with the outer space and the other classrooms, there, beyond the trees and the garden. It’s the first step towards the raising of social and urban consciousness. Due to the particular planimetric scheme, every facade offers wide views of the outside. Thanks to the continuity between the inner floor and the external ground, during periods of pleasant weather the generous windows can be completely open, bringing nature directly inside the room, thus merely transforming it in a roof under which one can look for shade and shelter. In the hottest days, the air and the gaze circulate in all directions. This great permeability, collaborating with the green roof that strongly enhances the thermal insulation capacity, makes forced air conditioning useless. Maybe a deep ecological conciousness, based upon simple solutions, can be developed since the first years of childhood.
Common activities pavillion
Many adventures take place in the wood. This is the place were one can get dirty, play, make parties. It’s not easily accessible: you have to go there. Just going there is an event. Children move there from their small city for special happenings, to meet their families. It‘s a limit point, secluded, raised from the ground. During special occasions the classrooms are closed and the two accesses on the
southern and western sides of the site open: the small children community prepares itself to welcome the larger community of Prato.