Fantasia

Project

The Kindergarten project comes from the will to consider as main key point – around which our intervention is developed – the cognitive process that each child is called to undertake.

In fact, referring to the Montessori Method, children will have the opportunity to grow and learn by getting involved in first person, thus becoming more and more autonomous with a more flexible environment in which each subject can freely choose which activity to take part in.

The built structure is divided into an enclosed space and a roofed space.

That part which once was totally not to scale, i.e. the coverage of the field, now becomes the means by which the project will be set up outside, made up of a garden and a series of pavilions, which are easily recognizable by the children from a formal point of view, through a series of associations between shape and activity (hexagon-sand / square – drawing / rectangle – discovery and rest).

The project consists of three temporal phases, conditioned by economic availability, that mark the definition, but all characterized by a great facility in construction.

First of all, the upgrading of the existing spaces will take place, first and foremost solving the problem of runoff and collection of water and refurbishing the roofs of enclosed spaces.

Subsequently, the building will be implemented with 100sqm more and the arrangement of the garden will take place.

At that point the spaces will already be usable.

The last phase involves the construction of the garden furniture and wooden pavilions using pre-established modules that are based on the TECHO methodology and, if possible, a new floor for the classrooms.

The idea regarding the Kindergarten operating system involves the presence of some people who should have a constant presence and therefore would be remunerated: for the Hall (2 people) and in the administration offices (2 more people).

As for the role of the teachers, the internal space, since it is thought as open-plan, would not require more than 3 teachers, while we foresee at least 3 more on the outside. The interaction with the volunteers will be useful in order to reduce the necessary number of teachers and, moreover, to manage the free circulation of children indoors-outdoors. As for the canteen, it would be useful to involve some mothers as cooks in 2-3 shifts, in order to manage the large number of children.

Interview

What prompted you to partake in the competition project?

One of the reasons that pushed us to join this competition was, without doubts, the possibility to build the project, which was a really important and a rare occasion for students like us. We wanted to create something using local materials and techniques, looking for a strong link with the surroundings. For us it was fundamental to consider the relationship that the building would establish with the pre-existing buildings.
At the same time, the main theme of the competition, the creation of a kindergarten in Bolivia, was really exciting. This enabled us to work with the aim of developing the project around the learning process of the kids. We believe architecture has the most active and important role when we are talking about the aforementioned scholar processes.

What questions does the project raise and which does it answer?

The first problem with which we had to confront ourselves was obviously ‘how can architecture influence the educational process of a child through the design of spaces.’

The Kindergarten project evolved from the will to consider as main key point – around which our intervention is developed – the cognitive process that each child is called to undertake. In fact, referring to the Montessori Method, children will have the opportunity to grow and learn by getting involved in first person, thus becoming more and more autonomous with a more flexible environment in which each subject can freely choose which activity to take part in.

The built structure is divided into an enclosed space and a roofed space. That part which once was totally not to scale, i.e. the coverage of the field, now becomes the means by which the project will be set up outside, structures around a garden and a series of pavilions, which are easily recognisable by the children from a formal point of view, through a series of associations between shape and activity (hexagon-sand / square – drawing / rectangle – discovery and rest).

Another issues we were confronted with from the very beginning was that of a limited budget, 10 thousand dollars to invest in the creation of the kindergarten. Although on one hand this presented itself as a limit it alsi directed us to look and adopt local materials and building techniques. The local manpower was considered as not specialized (the majority of it is composed by volunteers of NGO organizations, who also to teach the local population how to build).

As a result the proposal for the project proposal also provides a building guide, highlighting the adoptable construction techniques, and the possibility to be built by anyone.

In conclusion the last theme we wanted to tackle was the urban regeneration of the neighbourhood, a process that would have had the kindergarten as its main core. This existing school was indeed abandoned and in an advanced state of degradation, due to the not operative outflow water system, condition that our project faced and used to create a better environment for the kids.

How do you see the project developing through time? is there the possibility for a transformation and evolution?

The temporal phases have determined a planning aspect on which we have placed the attention right away. This is because it seemed right to us to design the spaces taking into account the various phases of construction, trying to make the spaces accessible to children as soon as possible and at the same time foreseeing a progressive implementation.

First of all, the upgrading of the existing spaces will take place, first and foremost solving the problem of runoff and collection of water and refurbishing the roofs of enclosed spaces.
Subsequently, the building will be implemented with 100 sqm more and the arrangement of the garden will take place, reusing the debris for the creation of the playground. At that point the spaces will already be usable. The last phase involves the construction of the garden furniture and wooden pavilions using pre-established modules that are based on the TECHO methodology and a new floor for the classrooms.

What case studies did you look at as references? how important were these in the development of the proposal?

It is maybe the first time that we don’t refer to a particular architectural project. Playgrounds of the post II World War have been a strong source of inspiration  as well as projects as those proposed by Assemble architects in 2005 in London.

We preferred to concentrate on the educational aspect of the building and our reference points were those architects that during their career developed a deep research on children’s education. Amongst them the most important were Bruno Munari and Enzo Mari, from which we studied their books and educational games.

Nowadays the idea that children need extravagant and innovative games, that don’t leave space to boredom, reaching the point where the child almost loses his fantasy and capability of reinterpretation is more and more common.

Through this project we decided to think about simple wooden shapes that can be easily built by local volunteers. Dimensions and colours are various to let children use the different pieces according to their willing. For example, the steps under the covered field were fulfilled with different objects, not toys, that children can use to play, or as steps or even as a perch during their recitals.
The same elements that are used as toys in the classrooms, are proposed in bigger dimension all over the covered field becoming tiny houses.

What informed the different mediums plan, ago and model through which you choose to explore the project?

The approach to the project has been one where the site was critically researched and interpreted in a multitude of different ways through the use of the hand drawing.

As the project developed, we considered it fundamental working with sections and physical models in order to compare and verify the project’s intentions. As a result of these tools we managed to better understand the kids’ playground volumes dimensions, the difference in heights between the classrooms and the service areas, the brightness of the learning areas compared to the playground.

How do the mediums operate independently and as a whole?

The design process didn’t follow a precise linear path characterized by analysis-design-physical model, but rather a cyclic process. The entire development went constantly through a comparison between our design ideas and the tools: research, drawings, sections and the physical model have been undeniable to consolidate our choices during the whole project development.

What informed the choice of views capture of the model? Was the model constructed specifically for the creation of these specific perspectives and insights into the project?

The choice of the maquette as representation method depends on several factors.

First of all, the refuse of renders to present our design proposal: we like the idea that images don’t show the final result but can leave space to personal imagination, letting people create their own image of the space. This space presents “blank points” to explore with our imagination.

We believe that ​​this type of model was extremely coherent with the main theme, remaining very simple and easily accessible.

The project development started with the drawings of those areas that could easier give the atmosphere we wanted to realize – the playground, the halley, the room. As consequence the maquettes were built from this perspective: they want to represent the enjoyable atmosphere of some scenarios, the proportions, the relationship between old and new and the educational games.

What is for you the architects most important tool?

For to us the maquette is the most important tool for an architect because it helps to critically study  the design concept during its entire development process.

It can simultaneously reproduce all images of the project whilst enabling us to understand the quality of the spaces, the dimensions and, more importantly, it can give an idea of the behaviour of natural light. Although we consider the maquette the most important tool, analysis, research and hand drawing play an essential role during the entire design process of an architect.

How and to what extent has the opportunity to develop this project affected you as an architect?

A the project had a low budget we learnt to consider and evaluate every gesture and its feasibility and costs. Each of the final decisions were made trying to reduce the costs while trying to solve the several problems the building was facing.  Moreover, it was very interesting to think about the building not only as a functional container (kindergarten), but as an essential part of the children’s educational path.

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