LOCATION Marina di Pisa, Pisa, Italy
YEAR 2022
THEME Architecture, Education spaces, Secondary school
STATUS Competition, fifth place
DESIGNERS Tomaso Monestiroli, Alessandro Perego
TEAM Claudia Angarano

The project for the “Niccolo Pisano” school identifies the pine forest as the primary element to be addressed. The different parts of which the school building is composed establish a complex relationship, as complex are the places in the city, which is built from the relationship between public and private places, between street and square, between covered and open spaces; all in direct contact with nature and landscape. The overall compositional choice saw the autonomy of the individual parts as the most appropriate solution to the demands of the call. The school must be an urban landmark, and must be able to host a range of activities even outside the normal school hours and calendar. The new school is thus analogous to a civic center, where the local community can come together to conduct a variety of activities.

The school is composed of distinct parts: along Andò Street, directly facing it, are the two building blocks of classrooms, laboratories, and educational management rooms with all the services required by the announcement. These two bodies are built of face brick, straw yellow in color. The main front on Andò Street features a jagged facade pattern to ensure maximum natural lighting for the classrooms while avoiding glare. A large glazed atrium, slightly off-center from the front, provides access to the building, which is distributed by a glazed gallery that in turn overlooks the school garden and pine forest. The gallery is designed as a double-height linear space, bright and well ventilated, visually open to the collective spaces and the pine forest to make it a continuous experience. The gallery is not only a distribution but also a place where various activities can take place, which lends itself to representing the entire community with cultural events. Within the school garden, directly connected with the gallery but having independent entrances from the garden, are the three collective building bodies. To the north, near the public entrance on Via Cagliaritana, is the auditorium. A building made entirely of straw-yellow face brick, it is ovoid in shape, compositionally constructed by two curvilinear wall partitions that face each other and define the entrance from the square in front. Further south, two C-shaped walls, enclosed by a glass wall set behind a colonnade, facing north and south respectively house the library and canteen functions. Again, entry for pupils is directly from the glazed gallery, while outside users can enter directly from the auditorium plaza. Between the auditorium and library, a first courtyard defines the reading forest, where users can stop and consult a book protected by the foliage of the trees, which will be deciduous to provide shade during the warm season without reducing, in winter, the radiation from the library’s glazed gallery. as a kind of open-air reading room. The cafeteria building, entirely facing the central courtyard, which we called the “climbing tree court,” is built similarly to the library. The placement, toward the central distribution plug, of the services allows the employees, to access the building without passing through the school. The third building, located further south, is the gymnasium building. An architecture defined by two brick wall partitions, a continuous facade placed behind a double colonnade, facing northward on the large court of the climbing tree and two one-story high bodies placed to the south, which house the locker rooms and services and define the entrance of users from outside the school who, through the south entrance on Andò Street, crossing the sports court, can directly access the gymnasium without interfering in any way with school activities. For all the school buildings, the architectural character is defined by the relationship of the masonry construction system, represented by the face brick walls, and the trilithic construction system of the open facades. For the most representative buildings, the trilithic system consists of circular-section pillars made of precast white concrete and lintels, corresponding to the floors, also made of precast white concrete. The gallery, which develops on three tiers to accommodate all technological systems, is built with square-section pillars.