Cervignano del Friuli, IT 2024


ISIS Malignani approved: a prototype of circular school which builds communities

Prototypes of circular schools that build communities.

The project of the Malignani Technical Institute in Cervignano del Friuli has been approved

Designed by Carlo Cappai and Maria Alessandra Segantini, C+S Architects, the project for the new Malignani Technical Institute in Cervignano del Friuli is one of the three prototypes of circular schools that the office has recently developed as part their research agenda on school design. These prototypes are all under construction.

“Our research team investigated schools playing with the words ‘circular architecture’. We started to experiment with circular school layouts as well as with techical specifications designing an assembly kit to push the principles of circularity, in the aim to reach maximum flexibility and the possibility to dismantle the building at end of its life as well as recycling its construction materials. All three of them are NZEB buildings. In this way we managed to create a series of prototypes for all levels of education: a nursery school for the Municipality of Venaria Reale, a primary school in Conegliano and a secondary school in Cervignano del Friuli” – states Maria Alessandra Segantini.

Schools are also the opportunity for a larger-scale reflection on the public space of the cities we live in: ‘dense cities and sprawl cities’. Both are undergoing processes of erosion of public spaces, the former being standardized by brands that chase each other the same at every latitude and where the freedom of activation by the community is essentially zero; the latter, the horizontal metropolis being characterized by the absence of urban interiors. Here public space is a leftover from micro-processes of privatization and zoning. “For twenty years we have been working on what we define as the backbone of the city: the collective, open, shared space, the true identity of communities. From this perspective, working on smaller towns and suburbs, we have focused our attention on schools because their use is mandatory; for their character of proximity to the communities living around, for their capillarity, for their informal character and recognizability within the communities, for their still unexpressed potential and their innovative strength. Colourful, open, transparent manifestos of a sustainable design (both in ecologic and social meaning) approach to welcoming children and the community around them: for us schools are the 'squares of suburbs and small towns'! – says Cappai.

The Malignani Technical Institute in Cervignano del Friuli

The new Istituto Malignani in Cervignano del Friuli, recently approved by the municipality, will host two sections of the ISIS Malignani, on 2.800 sqm which will be completed on the adjacent plot including all the sports’ facilities. The project is funded by the MIUR (Ministry of Education) for a total cost of 7.5 Million euro of which 5.8 millions are the construction costs. The Ministry of Education will manage directly the costruction process. 

The circular layout

The circular shape is historically an element of social cohesion in every culture. A circular open space becomes a covered indoor square which is the center of the layout. Overlooking this double-height space inundated with zenithal light, and covered by an elegant steel structure, are the classrooms and those public functions, which can be open to the community after the school hours: a multipurpose room/ auditorium, a small library, a study room and laboratories. The latter, all located on the ground floor, have the potential to become micro-incubators capable of connecting the students to the industry, thanks to the organization of workshops and activities to be carried out during or after the school hours. 

The space of the interior square on the ground floor was designed for the students as an informal meeting place, where they can spend time studying, exchanging experiences or just relaxing. Around this space are the laboratories on the ground floor and the classrooms on the first floor, which overlook the garden directly thanks to large windows. A spiral staircase and an elevator (plus a second health and safety staircase opposite the first) lead to a gallery on the first floor, which overlooks the double-height central square. The gallery serves 10 classrooms, a toilet block, the teaching rooms and the administrative offices. Not having a linear layout, the gallery is also designed as a space for informal rest or study-sessions in smaller groups. The layout of the space is simple and functional. 

Precisely because it is a technical institute, the project explores the potential of the force of gravity in giving shape to the space. 

“We have designed a space-structure that is modeled on the forces at stake: the steel beams increase in thickness when they are subjected to greater stress, giving shape to a structural dance of lightness and transparency. The architectural project defines the shape of the structure which in turn generates an interior landscape.” – claims Maria Alessandra Segantini.

Some free volumes have been placed on the large central square: the elevator, the spiral staircase, the structure-volumes of the multifunctional spaces (cafeteria and library). They become the structural supports of the roofing system.

“These are transparent conical or cylindrical metal volumes with crossed beams that meet without touching, thanks to an elegant detail to the bracing rings. The system of roofing beams is modeled following the structural stresses it must support, transforming itself into an elegant roofing landscape punctuated by the zenithal light which highlights the play of the inclined beams, projecting the pattern of their shadows onto the industrial concrete floor of the square. ”- describes Cappai.

“The galleries are cantilevered, thanks to a continuous circular beam that rests on IPE 300 pillars. The galleries are also shaped by the structural efforts, creating a sequence and a rhythm that transforms into a porticoed space on the ground floor, before the entrance to the laboratories. Architecture designs an educational-structural landscape.” – comments Segantini.

The use of industrial materials (YTONG-type cellular concrete blocks and concrete floor on the ground floor) and natural materials (cork in the classroom floor and for the covering of the external facade) allow us to build a dialogue between technical tradition and innovation while respecting the environment by guaranteeing NZEB certification.

The school includes 10 classrooms with a total capacity of 250 students. The dimension of the classrooms is more generous than required by law (54m2 per classroom instead of 49m2) as C+S's experience in designing school buildings considers this choice an added value for the teaching potentials and the possibility of conforming the classroom space by positioning the desks in differentiated layouts depending on the type of lesson. The classrooms are located on the first floor and all face outside and towards the common gallery. Their windows make it possible to guarantee the intervisibility which C+S believe to be an important asset for the growth of the students, guaranteeing and emphasizing exchange between peers. The classrooms overlook the variable-width gallery which, in turn, overlooks the central square, creating a space full of potentials. For the design of the new Malignani Institute in Cervignano del Friuli, particular importance was given to the energy sustainability of the project, using eco-compatible and disassembled materials in order to guarantee construction circularity: metal structures, YTONG-type cellular concrete blocks, floors in X_LAM load-bearing panels, cork coverings and floors.

In addition to Carlo Cappai and Maria Alessandra Segantini (head designers) and Stefano Di Daniel Project Manager of C+S Architects, the design team included: Archest for the structural calculation, health and safety and quantity surveys, Seingim for the MEP design and the Fire Brigade practices, Carlotta Cocco for CAM


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, Federica De Marchi, Anamika Gupta,  Marat Mayilyan, Jurgis Prikulis, con Gioele Gelmetti e Damla Karabay

Images: Flooer and Alice Cecchini, Roman Joliy

Structural calculation, health and safety and quantity survey: Archest srl

MEP design: Seingim spa

CAM: Carlotta Cocco


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