Architects: C+S Associati
Location: Treviso, Italy
Project Team: Carlo Cappai, Maria Alessandra Segantini
Structures: Tecnobrevetti srl
Client: Comune di Pederobba, Treviso
Project Year: 2006
Photographs: Courtesy of C+S Associati
Immersed amongst the vineyards and wheat fields, their rows tracing the memories of ancient crops, where space is marked rhythmically by the stakes supporting vine shoots and loses its colourful third dimension at the moment of ploughing time, is the small plot that hosts the nursery school in Covolo. It appears to be the missing piece necessary to complete the small urban centre, whose stable landmarks include the 16th-century church and bell tower, and the Dominican complex of Villa Bellati. A collection of modest structures is linked by a continuous series of stone walls, held intact by a thin layer of rough plaster. These walls, which accompany us for much of the way into the centre of Pederobba defining the boundaries between the network of roads and cultivated fields throughout the region of the Pedemontana, run adjacent to a meandering mass of vegetation which fills the wide gravely bed of the Piave River.
Walls and empty spaces. The new building forms an enclosure facing south-east, looking over wheat fields and vineyards, embracing and allowing itself to be defined by the features of the landscape. A rough concrete wall is coloured to match the surrounding landscape, treated with split aggregate to reflect light in a variable manner depending on its orientation.
The building is its structure: a wall.
A wall which opens to the south like the great arches of the barchesse, the huge porticoed barns typical of the region, revealing, at that point, the massive quality of the structure. A wall that retracts and doubles, colouring itself to emphasize its passages, its thresholds. A wall that forms itself in response to the tensions of that which it encloses. A wall that travels through the complex, smoothing out while continuing to guide the unfolding of the spaces.
Directly painted on the concrete walls, the coloured surfaces inside the school trace a recognizable code in order to help children self-orienting themselves: yellow is the colour of the youngest, green that of the older, blue is the colour of teachers and purple is that of multi-disciplinary and vertical experience. Red is threshold colour.
All colours meet in the great central space, a square able to change its function if required.
This space is also used after the school hours by the inhabitants of the small village who organize feasts and meetings. In this sense the school enlarges its role in the urban community becoming a centre.
The overhang, the stabilized Sarone gravel paving and the lighting all expand the moment of the threshold, amplifying the classrooms spaces towards the exterior, or bringing the garden, with its sounds and scents, into the school. This operation of extension of the ‘door’, this transformation of the threshold into an actual space become the imagination of a possible world, different and strange, suspended between inside and outside.
It becomes also a new way of learning with space by the concept of intervisibility. Many of the inside spaces are made of glass so that children can learn one from the other copying the work of other children.
The school becomes a kind of small cultural district where everybody is exchanging experince and showing achieved knowledge, a democratic space where everything is transparent, able to be transformed and rich of experience possibility.