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 is committed to creating an “educational place” capable of bringing out the identity of the setting it is found in and, at the same time, of being a center that promotes a relationship with the environment and intermixing 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 square 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 halls, which have been designed to join all the rooms in the building (classes/sections, workshops and services). In fact, the two wings of the structure are divided into corners and niches that encourage breaks and meetings, 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 walls 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 as different areas 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 visual continuity with the external square merges into a space that is instantly welcoming: soft, low and colorful seating that on the one hand promote the interesting use of the documentation arranged in the open shelving nearby and, on the other, introduce 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 separated 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 connection 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 experience and knowledge.
The theater corner and shadow/lights area offer a range of playing and drama experiences, and the continuity with connecting hall between the rooms of the pre-school is therefore enhanced.
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 services and the surrounding area. 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 periphery. 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.