San Niccolò Workshop: PLAY!

San Niccolò Workshop: PLAY!


Launched in July of 2019, the San Niccolò Workshop Series is a year-long project which approaches the 14th century site of San Niccolò Monastery within the city of Prato, through strategic planning as well as specific architectural interventions. 

Throughout the course of the year, and articulated as a series three workshops, we will analyse and redefine the spatial features of the different ‘Orti’ – the system of open courtyards inside the conservatory. In September of 2019 we will start by re-imagining the “Orto di Fabbrica” with a specific focus on the realm of play, subsequently we will then move on the “Orto di Vigna” to investigate the relationship between landscape and heritage and eventually we will land in the “Orto di Gosto” to explore the potentialities of ephemeral structures as triggering devices for togetherness.


“to choose a game, is to choose an architecture”

What are the parameters of a playground today? How can you frame playful experiences that inform spatial production?

“Play”is a workshop proposal, which, through research, strategic planning and prototypes definition, aims at the construction of various architectural boardgames for the “Orto di Fabbrica”. We will analyze and translate multiple playful epxeriences into designed artefacts, that challenge the spatial features of this complex courtyard.

These architectural board games will become the means by which is possible to discover S. Niccolò through a new lens – inhabiting it differently and programmatically reconnecting it to its surroundings. The projects will encourage students to  adopt a game mentality, understanding  play as a core allegory of cultural production. The more you play, the more possibilities you face, the more you can shape your own relationship with the city and who populates it. .

What kind a player are you?

Isam Noguchi
Isam Noguchi

Tutoring Team

KooZA/rch investigates and narrates the visual language of space.

Embracing the multidisciplinary, our ambition is to research, analyze and reveal the multitude of lenses through which we can draw and talk about space.  We value the image as medium through which we can address and reveal both the development of our built environment as well as speculative ideas which challenge the status quo.  We approach the image as project, the construction of a visual language which transcends borders. 

At a time when the amount of built architecture accounts for an infinitesimal percentage of that which is in effect ‘architecture’ whilst constructed artefacts are only shown and revealed in their built form, we value the image as medium through which we can address and reveal the making and development of a design.

As a digital research platform, we challenge the very act of drawing and image making in the land of the pixel.

We value the daring and the absurd, the alternative to the normal, the ideas which push contemporary pre-conceptions and boundaries

Lemonot is a design and research platform, founded by Sabrina Morreale and Lorenzo Perri. 

Fluctuating among London, Bangkok, La Paz and Italy – they investigate architectural production and its implications on other disciplines. Through Lemonot, they nurture an enthusiastic post-baroque approach to the world that surrounds us, looking for updated synthesis between abstract and figurative instances. 

Compulsive collectors and hungry observers of human mirabilia – they use Architecture as a methodology to reach different outcomes: from toys to pastry tools, from tattoos to story-telling.

Programme Heads of the AA Visiting School El Alto, their academic activity focuses on contemporary folklore and cultural assemblages.  They have been teaching at the AA Summer School since 2016, exploring gifs, filming and kitbashing techniques,  They are now Adjunct Professors at INDA, International Program in Design and Architecture in Bangkok.

ECÒL is an architecture office and research platform based in Italy. We develop unconventional strategies and aesthetics as a way to address contemporary issues and needs. Our work is the result of the observation and study of each project’s specific context. We are led by the desire to create exciting and interactive domains of expression.

We believe in a generous approach to design, which translates into the will to maximize all project’s intrinsic potential, regardless of budget. We are constantly fascinated by culture and people, always looking for a new iconography rich of symbolism and meaning. We use geometry as a tool to intuitively address human reactions and trigger spontaneous social engagement.

ECÒL’s work extends from International competitions to public space interventions at the smaller scale. In 2017 and 2018 the team has been awarded for projects on public space in Italy and Europe.

Our work explores many scales, from public space to private renovations to graphic design, from local interventions to international competitions.

Kosmos Architects is an office collaborating virtually, bringing together partners based in Basel, Moscow, Bangkok and New York. K O S M O S designs projects and environments of all types and scales: from a door handle to a city; from hardcore architecture to pop-up art installations. The office combines art and technology, global experience with respect to local context, European professionalism and Russian drive.

The office name K O S M O S can be read in several different meanings. First, it takes the word kosmos in its original definition from Ancient Greek, meaning “order” and “ordered universe”. Its opposite, “chaos” is identified as generic buildings, quotidian objects, temporary and anonymous infrastructure: scaffoldings, railway bridges, light fixtures, insulation materials, etc. K O S M O S takes inspiration from these utilitarian and mute elements of architecture – learning from it and finding ways of organising it into projects.

Office ShopHouse is a design practice directed by Natalia Vera Vigaray, Patxi Martin and Josep Garriga Tarres. After several shared educational experiences in different cultural contexts, this collaborative platform emerged from a common interest in addressing architecture and architectural education as a crucial role in the transformation of society. We believe in the figure of the architect as a social agent, a mediator that conceives custom-made answers to our daily needs. 

We make with our hands, as a tool of engagement with the city and its people. Through this performative turn, we shift our attention from final products to processes of production; 

ECOL, Drawing Public Space
ECOL, Drawing Public Space


Workshop Dates: September 15th – September 21st 2019

Registration Deadline: September 8th by email to

Location: “Orto di Fabbrica”, San Niccolò monastery, Prato, Italy


Each design group will produce a presentation that addresses the realm of play as an architectural catalyst for the “Orto di Fabbrica” of San Niccolò monastery. A series of drawings, videos and mock ups will be used to merge updated pedagogical models and public programmatic scenarios – through spatial production.

Furthermore, from the physical to the digital realm, students will be asked to document their design process, choosing  – everyday since day 1 – different media to represent their analysis, intuitions  and design steps for the www. 

This “behind the scenes” will be daily published on KooZA/rch, shaping an alive architectural record of the workshop.


The workshop is open to current architecture and design students, PhD candidates and professionals, as well as makers or artists with an interest in 1:1 prototypes and drawings. An interdisciplinary approach will be encouraged during the workshop.

All candidates are required to show proficiency in the English language. All participants are responsible for their own insurance including travel and health insurance. All participants also need to ensure that any equipment and valuable items such as laptops are covered by their own insurance as we do not take responsibility for items lost or stolen.


Students and professionals who want to participate to Play!_San Niccolò workshop need to register by sending an email with an expression of interest to and to pay a fee of € 350. 

Payment details will be provided by email and once the payment is completed, applicants will receive a confirmation of their enrollment. 

Fees do not include flights or accommodation, but accommodation options can be advised. Students need to bring their own laptops, digital equipment and model making tools