Refinement and Warmth: Incorporating Wood into a School’s Façade

Refinement and Warmth: Incorporating Wood into a School’s Façade

Wooden elements have the power to add warmth to a space or building. Through their shades, textures and rustic look, wooden surfaces tend to stand out, especially when used alongside more neutral and sober materials. In the Aldapeta María Ikastetxea School, a project developed by IDOM in the city of San Sebastian, Spain, the architects used the material in a particularly interesting way. Wood panels brought visual comfort and warmth to the building, whose material palette is limited, focusing especially on the use of glass, steel and exposed concrete.

The project included the construction of a new 18,000 m² school that is adapted to the demands of a contemporary educational building: suited to new technologies and pedagogical models, while built for energy efficiency. To this end, the architects chose to replace the original school –which dated back to the late nineteenth century– but in a way that did not interrupt its daily operations, by way of a complex work schedule divided into phases.

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Aldapeta María Ikastetxea School / IDOM. Image © Iñaki Bergera

The 9,972 m2 plot, with accesses at different levels, had the original topography reconstructed through the volumes. The architects used slatted concrete as a material that reproduces the location's original rock as a huge base, above which a seemingly lighter volume is located. Natural lighting is a protagonist in the project, harnessed through generous openings and amplified by clear, reflective materials and perforated sheets.

While the building is primarily horizontal and spreads throughout the levels and land plot, the architects opted for vertical façade elements and materials. All of the concreting was fused with vertical wooden boards and metallic components that clearly highlight the design's dominant vertical elements, seen both in the sheets and vertical slats. These wooden elements play an important role in breaking the rigidity of the palette of chosen materials, creating a feeling of warmth and hospitality, even though they are only present in the detailing. The wooden materials were provided by Parklex Prodema, which is focused on high-end maintenance-free wood panels for architecture, interior design and construction.

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Aldapeta María Ikastetxea School / IDOM. Image © Iñaki Bergera

The ones used in this specific project were the Natursiding - W line, whose surface composition protects natural wood against adverse weather conditions, eliminating the need for any re-staining, resealing, or repainting before or after the material is installed. Suitable for any climate, this coating reduces heat dissipation in the colder months and heat absorption in the hottest months, resulting in a sharp improvement in thermal comfort within the building. Besides that, the panels are 96 1/16” long, and are available in widths 12” or 8”, and can be installed over metal or wood substructures.

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Aldapeta María Ikastetxea School / IDOM. Image © Iñaki Bergera

According to the company, “To accentuate the rhythm and generate harmony between the two materials, we opted for the vertical placement of the slats, which, thanks to the aesthetics generated by a thinner panel piece, strives for a harmonious relationship between wood and concrete, replicating the vertical patterns of the wood formwork. The way of installation is novel for architectural practice because the slatted cladding has been placed vertically but above all, due to the hidden system without screws or rivets, it can be installed in large buildings and in an easy way, giving strength and uniformity to the whole. The Parklex Prodema panels, now with a new installation system that allows achieving distinctive finishes with the warmth of wood, with longevity, durability, and limited to no maintenance requirements.”

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Aldapeta María Ikastetxea School / IDOM. Image © Iñaki Bergera

Opaque wood panels act as prominent elements throughout the project. The choice of engineered wooden products was fundamental to provide greater durability to the building parts most exposed to the weather, maintaining their original appearance for longer, as well as functional qualities and dimensional stability.

Learn more about Parklex Prodema products and their use in other projects in our catalog.

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Cite: "Refinement and Warmth: Incorporating Wood into a School’s Façade" [Incorporando elementos de madeira à fachada da Aldapeta María Ikastetxea School] 23 Sep 2022. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/988850/refinement-and-warmth-incorporating-wood-into-a-schools-facade> ISSN 0719-8884

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