Don Luigi Palazzolo primary school - Bergamo

A new concept for a school building

Functionality and design, light and greenery create a lively, welcoming environment for children at a new primary school in the province of Bergamo
Elena Pasoli
M+L Architettura

To understand the spirit of this project, suffice it to say that its most distinctive feature is a giant metal model of a table lamp. Rising to a height of more than eleven metres, this astonishing artistic presence greets children at the entrance to the Don Luigi Palazzolo primary school in Ghiaie, in the province of Bergamo in northern Italy.
It is a modern school in terms of both design and concept. „The architectural typology we chose stems from a project presented in 1960 at the Milan Triennale by the British group CLASP,“ explained architect Marco Locatelli from the practice M+L Architettura. „This was the first school building project that broke away from the nineteenth century model in the search for a form of architecture that would reflect the teaching methods that were emerging at the time. Education theory took giant leaps forward in the 1950s and 1960s, moving away from the self-referentiality of classrooms envisaged as closed, self-sufficient worlds and instead opening up to the outside world and experimentation. This was reflected in changes in the structure of school buildings, with greater importance assigned to relational spaces.“
As the building is located in an area adjacent to the municipal gym, right from its inception the project sought to develop the potential for integrated use of the two buildings. Apart from a small section of the entrance block where the administration offices are located and where the solar panels are installed on the roof, the building essentially extends only over the ground floor. The key element of the school’s architectural composition is a large central common space, which stands out for its emotional characteristics and plays a very important role in the organisation of activities. Two elements allow for natural control of lighting and microclimate: a series of skylights set into oblique truncated pyramid-shaped recesses, the internal faces of which are coloured white in contrast to the sky-blue of the rest of the ceiling, making for strongly contrasting overhead lighting in the atrium; and an open-air space, a cross between a greenhouse and a patio, where trees shield direct sunlight but allow air to circulate.
Throughout the building, luminosity is enhanced by the use of Ivory and Leather colour porcelain tiles from Cerim’s Resins collection, a series with a high degree of size flexibility that stands out for its soft, velvety surfaces emphasised by warm colours and a delicate texture inspired by the density of resins and waxes. The use of ceramic tiles is particularly appropriate in the bathrooms, where the chosen collection is Progetto from Floor Gres, consisting of Grigio coloured porcelain for the floors and Pearl coloured glazed ceramic tile for the walls.
The laboratories and computer room are located on the west side of the building, along a straight and partly glazed wall, while the east side houses the classrooms with curved walls and volumes that project gently and in an irregular fashion into the central space. A further 5 classrooms run along the south side of the building, integrated with a specially designed patio. A glazed wall and direct access serve to create visual and functional continuity between the interior and exterior. The outdoor recreation area is delimited by a vertical screen of vegetation set slightly away from the wall, creating an external walkway that leads from the entrance courtyard to the laboratories, the library, the bathrooms and the canteen. All of these spaces can be used for civic functions independently of the school activities, giving the building important qualities of flexibility and complexity.

Ivory, Leather
33x66,4 cm, 50x50 cm

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