Winning the Italian Ministry of Education’s design competition: Scuole Innovative, AS.IN.O is a proposal for a kindergarten and botanical gardens inspired by local materiality and historic context. The team from aut- -aut in Italy, comprised of Gabriele Capobianco, Edoardo Capuzzo Dolcetta, Jonathan Lazar and Damiano Ranaldi, based the layout of the scheme on the typical double courtyard house typology of the Campidano Meridionale area.
The competition called for a design for one of 51 sites for innovative and sustainable schools dotted around the country. The entries would be judged on their architectural quality; environmental and sustainability considerations; practicality in regards to material selection and programmatic function, handling of teaching needs and the accessibility, usability, and safety of the structure and all its environments.
The Municipality of Selargius requested the design of a nursery school and botanic garden. aut- -aut noted a decline of the urban form in the latest expansions of Selargius and wanted to ensure the project reflect a practice of studying the vernacular and the traditional local typologies of the area.
The form of the project is generated by a folding, weaving perimeter wall that demarcates the various program, articulating the interior spaces of the school, an agora, and the entry foyer. The kindergarten, acting as the house in the double courtyard typology, splits the plot in half, allocating the larger portion to the garden and the smaller to indoor and outdoor space for the children.
The use of rammed earth for this wall would ground the project in its local context, connecting the building to its place as well as utilizing the low-cost of construction and the thermal and environmental performance of the material. The supporting structures made of timber and glass would rest lightly in comparison, drawing the gardens in.
The botanical garden is inspired by medieval hortus conclusus – where gardens are connected to a cloister or monastery by a high continuous wall. The wrapping of the perimeter wall generates continuous and connected spaces and evokes the mystery of these medieval gardens from the exterior.
The kindergarten and garden scheme plays with contrasts, the heaviness of the rammed earth against the lightness of the garden and agora, the prospect and refuge of the spaces generated by the winding perimeter wall, and the use of traditional forms and materials for contemporary formal conditions and architectural solutions to teaching practices. The project clearly answers the innovative brief, and would no doubt be an asset to the local and wider community of Selargius.
News via: aut- -aut.