- Engineer : Pere Riba, Jordi Riba and Oscar Alarcón
- Collaborators : Joan Marc Garcés, architect
- Construction : Construcciones Caler, SA
- Client : Virolai EMSA
- City : Barcelona
- Country : Spain
Text description provided by the architects. The Virolai Petit kindergarten has been built on the Escorial Street in Barcelona for the private developer Virolai, which has a long tradition in teaching centers. An adjacent building at the north is a big sports center, while on all the other sides the school has free facades. A closed facade at the Escorial Street protects from the noise, and it opens onto an interior with views of green areas on three levels that are terraced in a fan starting from the roof. The levels are turning their forged fronts in order to create schoolyards on each level and to improve the orientation of the classrooms.
Each floor has three classrooms with balconies to the patio for the educational activities, when the weather is appropriate. One of the main intentions of the project is to flee from the typical image of schools with roof playgrounds that look like metal cages added to the building.
For this reason, the enclosure of the roof playground extends to the street with a composition reminiscent of that of a Florentine palace, with a tripartite division of the façade in which the classical bossages are now a Flexbrick fabric of white ceramic plaques that unifies the three levels. These mixed concrete panels and ceramic platelets on the base of the building contemplate an important technical innovation: as the internal reinforcement of the ceramic fabric does not contain a concrete perimeter frame, the ceramic pieces can reach the ends of the panel.
This innovation has enabled the continuity of the checkerboard pattern of the fabric for three different facade situations. The roof playground has a triangular configuration composed by the dividing wall with the sports center, the already mentioned latticework facing the Escorial street and a second latticework overlooking the interior of the block. These veils of ceramic fabric throw a protecting shade on the patio while sifting the urban image for children.
The interior facades of the building are less monumental, adjusting the scale to the size of children. On the ground floor, small cubicles that project towards the patio help to sectorize the thresholds/porches of each classroom while its scale and elevation at mid-height remind us that children feel themselves safer when they can play under a table.