The Kid University (UPI) is an experimental initiative proposed by the Municipality of Gandía. The UPI is not a conventional kindergarten, but a group of specialized classrooms and workshops located in a natural setting where kids can develop their creativity and have fun beyond a school context. The proposed volume does not alter the Ausías March Park’s layout. Indeed, it respects the position of six existing white mulberry trees, arranging the classrooms around them and shaping a central lobed courtyard. Library, computers, painting, photography, auditorium, theatre and music classrooms are arranged around the mulberry trees. This courtyard is the core of the Kid University, linking open spaces, covered areas and indoor rooms. Towards the exterior, the building exhibits a sober and continuous facade, serving as a sort of palisade, that avoids building up fences.
White coloured ceramic tiles are the material both for facades and roof. There is continuity in the material that builds up the whole exterior of the building. From the outside, the building intends to be a light, white ceramic fence where the shade of the nearby trees is reflected. Vernacular architecture in this Mediterranean area uses ceramic that does not need any maintenance and adapts naturally to its mild climate. In summer it reflects the strong local light and protects inside from high temperatures.
Ceramics are designed as three-dimensional pieces with a can shaped mould that resembles a continuous bamboo fence. The pieces are double faced and the flat side is used for the roof.
In the patio, the facades are built with wooden carpentries painted white, so there is a transparency between inside and outside and all mulberry trees can be seen from the classrooms. In the inside finishings are linoleum for pavements and cork for ceilings as sound absorbent material, combined with the concrete structure walls.
Sustainability is achieved by the own concept of the building. Cost was tight and both structure and construction are finishing’s and conditioning. The interior is shaded from the intense summer sun by the mulberry trees that attenuate solar irradiation and cast scattered shadows to the interior of classrooms. And so artificial light is reduced to the essential.
In winter mulberry trees have no leaves and sun and light enter freely in the classrooms. Once spring has transformed the trees and they are full of leaves they become a natural shade for children.
In the outside the ceramic continuous walls bear naturally the patina of time and have no maintenance. The only openings are the entrance fence and a large window overlooking the historical centre. The sloped ceramic roof attenuates solar irradiation and conducts water from rain to the patio and to the trees where a central playground has a circular sand pit and a circular bench for telling stories and outdoor music. A nearby old water basin is refurbished for children swimming and water games.