The new school that was built in 150 days thanks to the funds and supervision of the Bocelli Foundation has been inaugurated. Local administrations and artists were headed up by the famous singer at the ribbon-cutting ceremony. The founder’s rendition of the Italian national anthem was extremely moving. This is a celebration that gives a future back to this Marche town which has been affected by the earthquake. The event drew a huge crowd of people and, for the philanthropic tenor, the gratitude of an entire community.
“The virtuous result of intentions and methods imbued with entrepreneurial and institutional synergy”, this is how the President of the Italian Republic defined the project that the Bocelli Foundation completed yesterday in the town of Muccia, in the Marche region. In his message for the inauguration – on Wednesday, June 26 – of the “E. De Amicis” pre-school and elementary school, Sergio Mattarella wanted to send the foundation’s founder, as well as “the future young students, the local administrations and all the event’s participants, a warm and sincere greeting”.
The whole of Italy was in Muccia yesterday afternoon: there were institutions (with the wishes from the highest office of the Italian government, as well as from the Italian Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte, and the President of the Italian Senate, Maria Elisabetta Alberti Casellati, and the attendance of the Commissioner for the Reconstruction, Paolo Farabollini, and the President of the Marche Region, Luca Ceriscioli, as well as the Archbishop of Camerino, Monsignor Francesco Massara, and the Mayor of Muccia, Mario Baroni, as well as many of his colleagues from the area affected by the seismic crater). There were also many artists who are friends of the Bocelli Foundation, including the ABF ambassadress Catrinel Marlon and Ilaria della Bidia. The entire town gathered at the brand new pre-school and elementary school: the children (the main beneficiaries of the project), their parents, their grandparents, to applaud, to express their joy, satisfaction and, more than anything else, their gratitude to ABF and its founder.
“But I do not deserve your thanks – said Andrea Bocelli, at the beginning of his short speech: “If you think about it, in my life I have done many things, without actually ever doing anything: essentially, I have sung, but singing is a gift from the heavens… And then many wonderful things happened, one after the other, just like the one we are experiencing today”.
From the stage built in the school’s square, just a short walk from the town’s old center, which is still blocked off, he continued: “examples are contagious: we can achieve a lot alone, but we can do much more together. And when, such as thanks to ABF, we are able to spark goodwill, the charitable fire can get bigger and warm us all. What we are celebrating today is a practical demonstration that when we really want something, it can be done. My sincere wish is that from today the children of Muccia can leave their painful memories in the past and look to the future with hope and great optimism”.
Just as in nearby Sarnano, where last year ABF was the protagonist of a twin philanthropic project, in Muccia the schedule announced at the beginning of the works was respected: 150 days to construct the building that will welcome the students of the pre-school and elementary school. However, the educational hub will be active well before September: already in the coming weeks ABF has a summer camp planned for the children and recreational activities for the adults, such as themed dinners and concerts.
Right where the educational complex compromised by the earthquake stood, from today will stand a new, functional, safe and eco-sustainable school, around which the entire community can finally start again. 45 companies (all from the Marche region), a team of over 15 professionals, and 163 workers and technicians worked to make this project a reality for 119 days, which amounted to 9,700 hours of work.
“When you see how beautiful this school is, you understand that it was not just a reconstruction: it is a completely new place, made with extraordinary quality and with special passion – stated President Luca Ceriscioli – because this school holds a piece of the soul of the people who donated it, demonstrating an extraordinary love for our region, a sensitivity and a strength that is difficult to find anywhere else”.
Fresh off another tour (in Canada and the United States), our founder, Andrea Bocelli, and his wife Veronica Berti (who was born and raised in the Marche region) very much wanted to be present, to embrace the people of Muccia and celebrate this great little example of the strength that coming together and a can-do culture can bring about.
“I want to take this undertaking as an example”, said the Commissioner for the Reconstruction, Paolo Farabollini, during his speech: “From the possibility of completing the construction works in 150 days, just as these buildings were realized, with the main focus being quality and safety”.
In front of the audience crowding around the semi-circular stage, which was built especially for the event (which was granted the patronage of the Italian Chamber of Deputies), the singer and presenter Ilaria della Bidia did the honors of opening the ceremony. After a greeting from the local administrations, the cutting of the ribbon was accompanied by enthusiastic applause and a musical performance filled with deeper meaning: In fact, Andrea Bocelli sang Schubert’s Ave Maria and the Italian national anthem, accompanied by a group of young wind instrumentalists, students of the music-centered school in Camerino.
The school tour then followed, together with the children of Muccia, who were already well-acquainted with the spaces because they have been involved since the design stage and have been invited several times to see the evolution of the works.
The synergy with the community and with the local administration was crucial in being able to pull off this feat – in regards to the construction times and quality of the finished product – which aims to be a virtuous model that can be replicated. “This time it is not the earth that is trembling, but our hearts”, said the Mayor Mario Baroni: “At a time of great uncertainty and difficulty, ABF has proven to be a trustworthy point of reference for both the local administration and the people. Muccia will never forget the extraordinary role that the Andrea Bocelli Foundation has played in this change of course that we are celebrating today. Thank you for giving our children a dream, that of being able to continue their studies in the place where they were born, in an extraordinary and highly-functional building that will be a space for social gatherings and many educational activities”.
The school, designed by civil engineer Paolo Bianchi, includes a total surface area of almost 1000 square meters and features large spaces, designed to become shared areas, to be used for informal lessons, reading or simply socializing. The “De Amicis” school has been built with “Platform Frame” technology using wooden frames, which guarantees the highest grade of resistance to earthquake shocks.
The new building, next to the red zone, is an oasis from which the town can start again. It is the place where it will find the strength to do so, starting with the children and their space for socialization, growth, study, play and sport. Finally the town has a tangible supportive response that, more than anything else, is permanent and gives back not just a teaching center, but the energy needed for the town to get back on its feet, in a region that is still suffering heavily from the damage caused by the 2016 earthquake.
Once the spotlight dims (in the late afternoon) on this exceptional day, Muccia will prepare for the normality to which it aspires every day, yet with more energy and trust. ABF Vice-Chair, Veronica Berti, encapsulated the feeling of the celebration in her own words: “The entire community succeeded in this challenge. We invite those who follow us from afar to come and visit it, to see how complex life can be here but also to see with their own eyes the beauty of rebirth, made up of emotions and aspirations. We invite everyone to stand by our side, today when we are celebrating the end of one journey and, as always, the start of a new one at the same time”.
The accomplishment of this additional philanthropic challenge by the Bocelli Foundation was also made possible thanks to the generous support of partners, such as the Fondazione Mediolanum, Generali, Chopard, Fondazione Marche, Poligrafici Editoriali, the PSC Group Order and Sons of Italy. As well as the Angelini Welch Family, Subissati, the Columbus Citizens Foundation, Chopard, Palazzo Tornabuoni-Firenze-Soci Fondatori, Future Tech Enterprise Inc., Schnell, Gnutti Cirillo Spa, Pizzardi Editore, Club Z3mendi, Eko Music Group, Tecno Iti Srl, Faeber, the Electrolux Manzoni Group, Funplay, the Massimo Rebecchi Family, the Fondazione Varaldo Di Pietro, the Gruppo Giardini Pistoia, the N. Luciani Family, Vesmaco, Abb, Fruittilandia, Tlf, Associazione Piano Friends, Stefano Ricci, Matteo Bocelli, Barberini&Gunnell, and the SIAE. Special thanks go to Rai, Rai Sociale, the Celebrity Fight Night Foundation, Media Friends, the Municipality of Florence, the Fondazione Arena di Verona, the Special Commissioner for the Reconstruction, the Italian Civil Protection Department, the Firefighters, the Municipality of Muccia, TV200 and everyone who supports ABF’s mission every day.
The total surface area spans almost 1000 square meters and the facility will feature large spaces, designed to become shared areas, to be used for informal lessons, reading or simply socializing. With the help of a team of experts, ABF has focused on the creation of a place that is integrated with the community, with traditional local characteristics, that can fulfill even the wishes of young students. From the area for cultivating aromatic herbs to the aquarium, to a canteen in the center of an ideal “agora” where there is also a piano, symbolizing the distinctly musical-centered curricula of the school.
The new “De Amicis” school complex is built with “Platform Frame” technology using wooden frames which guarantees the highest grade of resistance to earthquake shocks and certifies the building as a Class IV facility, i.e. the rating applied to “important public or strategic buildings with regard to civil protection management during natural disasters”.
The construction – with pre-fabricated wooden elements and strong insulated walls, together with underfloor heating, a photovoltaic system and air treatment units with heat recovery systems and air-to-air heat pumps – guarantees the highest comfort and energy saving standards, allowing the facility to be classified as a Nearly Zero Energy Building (NZEB).
As it is located in the old town center, the building is purposefully traditional, with just a few modern touches in the shape of the roof and the portico, as well as of the lobby of the central Agora. The Agora is the common area between the two sides of the building (the pre-school on the left and the elementary school on the right). A web-shaped ceiling made of white glued laminated timber makes this large common area, which is filled with stimuli, beautiful and welcoming: from the grand piano to the library, tables, aquarium and the green walls with aromatic herbs.
Gradually we discover the area dedicated to the littlest kids, the pre-school for children up to three years old with play rooms, bathrooms, baby changing areas and special activity rooms (where a little theater is set up), the class rooms that look onto the outdoor area with fall-protection surfacing and a tricycle track, slides, rope climbing structures, and a shed for tools. Other classrooms, which are also for the preschoolers, feature a play and relaxation area, a ball pool and slides so they can immerse themselves in it, and a large screen for projections that can also show what is happening in real time in the music room.
The wing dedicated to the elementary school also has five interconnected classrooms and is filled with educational and play tools, from the music room with modular walls that can transform it into spaces for physical education, to the science classroom. Outside there is also a basketball court, a large chessboard, a raised garden, a running track, a soccer field, and an outdoor gym with fitness equipment.
The building is also energy efficient, as it is equipped with a 20-kW photovoltaic system and is therefore almost self-sufficient.
“I have been building for 30 years.
I love my job, but constructing a school is a feeling that no other kind of construction can give you”, stated the engineer Paolo Bianchi, who designed the project: “We’ve regularly had the children here with us, during the construction, and we kept to the schedule. More than anything else, we are happy to be able to give this community a beautiful, welcoming building with outdoor spaces. These spaces are crucial to give back a center, a “square”, that is typical of these medieval villages. The square that was lost after the earthquake, with the subsequent risk of losing the custom of socializing”.
To build the Muccia School Complex, the Andrea Bocelli Foundation brought together many professionals and experts who formed a team to identify – right from the design stage – a virtuous way to build a school for children that is safe, cheerful and open to the community. Some of the people who actively worked with ABF include the educationalists Sara Zingoni and Serafino Carli, who were previously involved in the design of the “Centro Zerosei A. Bocelli” pre-school school in Lajatico, which is the birthplace of our founder.
In the short piece that follows, Zingoni and Carli describe the reflections that guided their choices and what criteria they adopted to design this educational place that is poised between tradition and innovation.
The new school in Muccia:
a place to restore memory and build a future for an entire community
by Serafino Carli and Sara Zingoni
The future is sustained by the memory of the past and the pursuit of the present.
The project for the new De Amicis School Complex in Muccia is focusing its utmost attention on safety and stability, incorporating the shapes and colors of the physical geography that surrounds it, as well as the thoughts, ideas and desires of the historical, cultural and social environment in which it is located.
The working group was committed to creating an “educational place” capable of bringing out the identity of its neighboring environment and, at the same time, of being a center that promotes a relationship with the environment and intermingling with the very community that surrounds it.
The idea is to create a school that does not only interpret the traditional role of educational institution, but also steps into the role of social and cultural connector and the place where the community comes together. A “civic center” able to be the driving force of the area and enhance social, educational and cultural events.
This project entailing an educational setting was designed to be the “heart of the town” and it displays its boundaries to highlight its identity and, simultaneously, build and offer favorable conditions that ensure that everyone can cross said boundaries, both to enter and to leave and go beyond them.
In fact, the structure that houses the school complex is shaped like two large wings that meet in a central space, the Agora, the beating heart of the building. A large glass door separates the central space from the square outside, which is located in front of the school.
The front piazza is not enclosed at all and thus is open towards the town and almost seems to meander into the school’s inner Agora, to welcome the entire community, and not only the children and teenagers.
The piano sits in the center of the school, emphasizing the value that musical culture has for bringing people together and opening up communication. The Agora continues on two sides through connecting spaces, which have been designed to join all the rooms in the building (classes/sections, workshops and facilities). In fact, the two wings of the structure are divided into corners and niches that encourage breaks and coming together, as well as studying, concentration and individual relaxation. The rooms are connected internally too, so that classes can work on activities together or in small groups.
The two side-ends boast direct access to the garden and the town. This makes it possible for the themed workshops (for music, art and science), as well as the spaces for the youngest children, to be used and managed independently. Indeed, currently the rooms of the pre-school have two symmetrical sections, one of which has been designed with all the functional and regulatory features required for it to be easily turned into a kindergarten if required.
The Agora, or the inner square, provides many opportunities, both when set up into corners or as a multi-functional space.
The assurance and the warmth provided by the roof with its exposed wooden beams blend with the brightness and visibility of the exterior, which is achieved by the large windows on the opposite side.
The continuity with the external square fuses with an environment that is instantly welcoming: colorful, soft, low seats that, on the one hand, support the interesting use made of the documentation in the nearby open shelving and, on the other, lead to the piano area.
The walls of the Agora hold the library and the books are arranged in large bookcases to convey the concept of reading as a nice, interactive and common activity.
The table area, which is divided into three different sections divided by low furniture, is for reading time, conversation and lunch.
The large sink with running water allows the people who inhabit this place to wash their hands whenever they want or need and, at the same time, emphasizes the value and necessity of this natural element so essential for life.
The direct link between the table area and the inner kitchen mean this space can also be used as a possible workshop space for cooking or using and combining foodstuffs as invaluable ways for gaining knowledge and experience.
The theater and shadow/lights area offers a range of experiences in regard to play and drama, enhancing the continuity with the connecting space between the rooms of the pre-school.
The roof of the Agora holds a large, extendable screen connected to a video projector and a computer, so that current experiences and research can be shared, as well as film, cultural and sport events that involve the community.
The attention to detail concerning functionality combines with aesthetic polish also: the inclusion of a large aquarium is a proposal but, more than anything else, it is as a symbol of how and how much the educational/school setting must be welcoming – first and foremost – and able to accommodate, support and encourage the desire to explore and learn, so as to allow for the gradual enrichment of the children’s day-to-day experiences.
The information and experiences are displayed and documented on special wooden panels that warm up the walls and bring them to life.
The garden is also a connecting space, between the facility area and the surrounding environment. That is why not even the fence completely obscures the view of the exterior, but rather leaves room for observation and communication with people who may be walking past the boundary. The garden is a precious educational resource. It is a laboratory filled with available materials where natural elements and equipment are chosen carefully, in line with the dynamic relationship with the interior, guaranteeing that the processes of experience and knowledge complement one another.
This gift of a beautiful environment, also visually speaking, that has been given to the children, their families and the community conveys the value attributed to childhood. If children are the most important thing for their parents and society, then care for the places where they grow and learn is the first lesson.
- Message from the President of the Italian Republic
I thank you for your warm invitation to attend the inauguration of the new “Edmondo De Amicis” pre-school and elementary school that will take place in Muccia on June 26, the virtuous result of intentions and methods imbued with the entrepreneurial and institutional synergy that previously distinguished the construction of the “G. Leopardi” middle school in 2018.
I am deeply regretful that I cannot take part in the ceremony, but I would very much like to express my appreciation for the accomplishment of this new project, which is an example of rebirth that is in complete harmony with the surrounding environment.
I would like to take this opportunity to send you, the future young students, the local administrations and all the event’s participants a warm and sincere greeting,
- Message from the President of the Italian Council of Ministers
I would like to extend my deepest thanks for the welcome invitation to the inaugural ceremony of the “Edmondo De Amicis” pre-school and elementary school in Muccia on June 26, 2019.
Unfortunately, I have to inform you that I will not be able to attend the event due to binding institutional commitments.
However, I want to take the opportunity to express my appreciation and my personal thanks for the contribution that the Foundation wished to provide, through the construction of an exemplary school, to restore hope and confidence in the future in one of the places most negatively affected by the terrible earthquake of 2016.
Wishing the event every success, I send my sincerest greetings, trusting that we will soon have an opportunity to meet,
- Message from the President of the Senate of the Italian Republic
thank you for inviting me to the inauguration of the “E. De Amicis” school. Unfortunately, previous institutional commitments do not allow me to attend this auspicious and very important moment for a place so sadly affected by the 2016 earthquake.
The construction of a new school is a symbol of rebirth, a crucial moment to restore everyday life and preserve the history, tradition and culture of a place and its inhabitants.
This lovely and commendable initiative thus symbolizes the rebirth of a community, the renewal of a feeling of trust and hope in our future: children.
I particularly commend your extraordinary ability to complete the new project in a very short time frame, as well as the choice to build a safe, environmentally-sustainable building equipped with advanced technologies, which is perfectly integrated with the beautiful landscape of this region.
Finally, please allow me to congratulate your foundation and the institutions involved – both public and private – for the great commitment and the virtuous example of collaboration shown. Establishing a system, by combining the energy, sensitivities and professionalism available, is undoubtedly the best way possible way to achieve exceptional results.
In the hope that the children of Muccia can learn, play and grow in the most tranquil and positive way possible, I take this opportunity to offer you and all the inhabitants my warm greetings.
Maria Elisabetta Alberti Casellati
STATEMENT FROM THE ABF PROJECT PARTNERS
for the inauguration of the “E. De Amicis” pre-school and elementary school in Muccia
Fondazione Mediolanum Onlus
After supporting the reconstruction of the Sarnano middle school, the Fondazione Mediolanum Onlus is renewing its commitment to the young students of Muccia by donating a teaching classroom and a sports area. “We were happy to answer the call of the Andrea Bocelli Foundation – says Sara Doris, President of the Fondazione Mediolanum Onlus – to help support the initiative focusing on the children in an area so harshly hit by the earthquake. My thanks go to everyone who contributed to the #Ricostruiamoilfuturo fundraising initiative with their donations. This is a challenge that we can only succeed in together to give back these children – who will be the adults of tomorrow – a sense of normality”.
“With this project, we are joining the Andrea Bocelli Foundation to raise awareness concerning the phenomenon of natural disasters. This is the first intervention of the Fondo Protezione Solidale – Solidarity Protection Fund – and is the result of the teamwork that involved the company, its representatives and its clients in the Andrea Bocelli Foundation’s project to rebuild the school in Muccia. This is another way we want to be the life-long partners of the people and stand alongside communities”.
Lucia Sciacca, Generali Italia Communication and Sustainability Director
“I am very pleased and honored to take part in such an important moment. Chopard Italia supported the project conceived and promoted by the Andrea Bocelli Foundation for this “school of the future” in Muccia. For Chopard – which has been supporting projects to help and improve the living conditions and education of children for a long time now – embracing ABF’s commitment was the natural choice. This decision was further motivated by the philosophy that the brand has been pursuing since 2013 through its “The Journey to Sustainable Luxury Project”, which aims at creating luxury items that are increasingly more sustainable from both an ethical and environmental perspective. This new school built with specific eco-sustainable and environmentally-friendly criteria is a symbol of rebirth and a starting point for these children who represent the citizens of tomorrow”.
Simona Zito – General Manager Chopard Italia