Venaria Reale, IT


CIRCULAR, ASSEMBLABLE, RECYCLABLE Andersen Nursery School in Venaria Reale


C+S Architects present the latest prototypes that close the path dedicated to circular schools. Pilot projects in Veneto (primary school), Friuli (secondary school) and now two nursery/nursery schools in Piedmont. Details of the projects financed with 6 million euros. Maria Alessandra Segantini: “I am an architect and a mother. With these projects I realize one of my dreams: to give special experiences to all the children in the world. (...) I experimented with circular school layouts and an assembly kit that allows the building to be dismantled at the end of its life by recycling the construction materials and thus reducing the impact on the Planet".

Prototypes of circular schools that build communities, the vision of C+S Architects becomes reality: the feasibility studies of the two nursery schools and nursery schools in Venaria Reale have been approved, work is now underway on the executive projects. The Municipality, in the province of Turin, has in fact appointed C+S Architects, the office founded by of Carlo Cappai and Maria Alessandra Segantini, with the design of two nursery schools to replace existing structures: the Don Sapino nursery school, which overlooks the Royal Palace of Venaria Reale and the Andersen childhood center inside the garden of the APC Fiordaliso social housing district. The first bureaucratic step was the approval of the technical-economic feasibility studies and the assignment of the definitive executive design. The projects are already financed, the budget invested for now is six million euros.

Designed by Carlo Cappai and Maria Alessandra Segantini, based between Treviso and London and recently awarded as the best Italian architects, the projects for the Andersen and the Don Sapino nursery schools in Venaria Reale are prototypes of circular schools which C+S Architects developed as part of their research program on school design. Together with the primary school of Conegliano (in the province of Treviso) and the secondary school of Cervignano del Friuli (in the province of Udine) they propose new spatial models for the entire school curriculum.

Cappai and Segantini have been working on school building projects for more than twenty years, since 1998, when they built their first school complex in Caprino Veronese. Their schools are internationally known, have been used as best practices to write the MIUR (Italian Ministry of Education) guidelines and have been exhibited at the 15th Venice Architecture Biennale. All their schools are Nzeb buildings (Nearly zero energy buildings, i.e. highly energy efficient). Furthermore, new circular school layouts were tested, different for the three growth stages of the children: for nursery children the structures are made of wood and build a special relationship with the outdoor spaces, so important at the early stage education; in the primary school the structure is suspended allowing zenithal light to stimulate exploration, so important for the kids between 6 and 10 years old; in secondary schools the structure creates ‘a social space’ (fundamental for teenagers) thanks to a covered square where all the spaces of the school overlook. The construction process is also innovative: an assembly kit allows you to build the building "dry" and dismantle it at the end of its life by recycling the construction materials, which are wood for the structural parts and cork for the floors.

“I am an architect and a mother,” explains Maria Alessandra Segantini. “I have always asked my boys to chase their dreams by combining adventure and perseverance. Today, these school projects allow me to realize one of my dreams: that of giving special experiences to all the children of the world. Women work silently to advance and preserve the species. I experimented with circular school layouts and an assembly kit that allows the building to be dismantled at the end of its life, recycling the construction materials and thus reducing the impact on the Planet".

In addition to Carlo Cappai and Maria Alessandra Segantini, Stefano Di Daniel (Project Manager) C+S Architects, Anamika Gupta, Alice Cecchini, Roman Joliy and Ana Paula Tosetti Sapia (C+S Architects), New Engineering, for the design of wooden structures, who also follows the plant engineering part and the Flooer studio for the images.

“As architects and researchers, we recognize that schools have an important political role, being a hub and a public space for the communities living around them,” declares Carlo Cappai. “In these projects, albeit with different forms, we break down the walls by designing completely transparent schools, which become metaphors for the construction of an open, multi-ethnic and multicultural community. We conceived these school buildings imagining the possibility of creating spaces that can be used by the whole community, at different times and adaptable to hosting different events: theatrical or musical performances, cooking or playing sports together. The two nursery schools are easily transformed into transparent and porous cultural hubs that stimulate curiosity and the exchange of experiences and knowledge".



THE LOCATION The area where the construction of the new Andersen nursery school is planned involves a portion of approximately 6000 square metres, where there is currently a five-section nursery school (two nursery sections and three nursery sections), which will be demolished. The particularity of the lot consists in its position in the center of the residential complex called Quartiere Fiordaliso owned by APC Agenzia Territoriale per Casa Piemonte. Located near the new axis of Via Marchese, which the municipal administration considers the backbone for the development of an integrated system of green spaces and services in Venaria Reale, the school is designed as a "spiral" that goes from the city to the intimate space of the child, it protects him, but at the same time inspires him and therefore it can also be seen in the opposite sense: that is, as the educational path that guides the child to be part of a community.

A PAVILION IN THE GARDEN The concept proposes a large pitched roof surrounding a central porticoed courtyard which becomes the fulcrum of the childhood centre, shared between the nursery school and the nursery. The two schools have specific areas of relevance on opposite sides of the oval and are designed to remain open to the community beyond school hours. The new Andersen is designed as a pavilion immersed in a new garden. The new building, with a circular plan developed around a central courtyard, is at the same time intimate, because a raw earth wall defends it from the outside, creating an enclosure, and public because all the spaces overlook the central square/garden . A regular sequence of paired wooden pillars and sliding windows gives rhythm to the space of the portico which creates the solution of continuity between outside and inside. An inverted truss is inserted between the twin pillars which marks the rhythm of the internal space on the roof, freeing it from the presence of vertical structures and spatially representing the fluidity that characterizes contemporary society. It is the structural concept that gives substance to a school without walls. The pitched roof, in zinc, is designed by the ribs of the structure and will become the sound box for the sound of the rain. It was decided not to cut down any of the valuable trees on the lot. The garden will be designed by small differences in altitude and planted with urban vegetable gardens, also for community use.

THE MATERIALS The complex structure of the building, both vertical and roofing, will be made of wood, with a double series of coupled pillars and a system of reverse trusses and X-LAM panels that free up the internal space of the school. The internal floors will be made of cork. Both materials are recyclable. The structure is designed completely dry and therefore dismantled at the end of the building's life cycle. The objective is pursued through the creation of a high-performance building envelope and a plant system capable of minimizing energy needs, allowing the construction of a building in the "NZEB" energy class.


Head Designers and structural concept: Carlo Cappai, Maria Alessandra Segantini, C+S Architects

Project Manager: Stefano Di Daniel, C+S Architects with  Sai Anugnia Buddah, Anamika Gupta, Gioele Gelmetti, Damla Karabay, Ana Paula Tosetti Sapia

Images: Flooer and Alice Cecchini, Roman Joliy

Structural calculation, MEP, health and safety, CAM: New Engineering srl

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