Project selected to represent the contemporary Italian landscape in the Italian Pavilion at the 14th Venice Biennale of Architecture
The analysis of road junctions and functional expectations of the priority and inevitably had to face the need to create a functional organism between the existing and the new elementary school kindergarten in a unitary system which still allow the two to maintain their own autonomy management despite being intimately connected, fitted together, in this symbiosis formal able to become tangent to flows traveling public without getting cross by themselves.
The new school is a primary school (from 3 to 6 yo), the existing one is an elementary school from the '50 (from 6 to 11 yo), the new square in front the the main entrance of the new school connect the two buildings. Another public area, on the roof of the new school, connects the two buildings with the town and the citizens.
In this conjunction the elementary school undergoes a compression on the eastern front to allow for the improvement of roads to and from a new public square of access to the new school complex.
The shape of the lot is characterized by a very pronounced difference in height, about 18 meters away from the upper street and the lower one directed us to a structure that was partially embedded in the hillside and partly stretched and anchored to it.
The altitude imposed inevitably a reflection on the way we relate to a land so unconfortable to accommodate a primary school which by its nature must be able to develop on one level or second units easily overcome with a minimal slope of the ramps. Not being able to develop the building on one level from the entrance fee we had to take a second lower altitude that could accommodate on one floor of the six sections and at the same time could relate properly to the built environment by avoiding carry-ground disproportionate.
From a compositional point of view the new school was conceived as a pure and elemental as the square, which work with carvings and changes of heights is going to outline was carved inside the various functions of which it is composed: canteen services for faculty, connecting hallways, classrooms and laboratories, toilets, dining areas .
The box in top of the building is the only volume that "escapes" from the pure geometry of the square, due to its different funcion. It's a multipurpose public hall, designed so that it can be used independently from the school (auditorium, meetings, exhibitions, readings, performances...). It is a sort of a lighthouse ,visible from the valley. When the lights are on, it announces that something inside is happening. The material is U-glass frame, a special semiopaque glass that makes that translucent effect with a light behind it. The whole building developes around a inner courtyard, which allows the children to play in a safe and protected outdoor area.
The main materials used for the project are concrete and glass for the school, steel and U-glass frame for the upstairs multipurpose hall, trying to use different materials related to the different functions of the building.
The name is not connected with the shape of the building. The project was named "the whale" because during the excavations on site we found a 9mt long whale fossil from 35millons ago. Now the whale is to the archeological museum in Florence.