"Girotondo" Nursery - Piacenza

An educational Rubik’s cube

A nursery in Piacenza is a child-scale micro-city, a surprising abstract composition of coloured cubes
Carlo Paganelli
Luciano Busani
[ FA+FB ] Fabio Boiardi - Filippo Armani Architetti
Zeppi Cav. Franco e Figli
Year of completion
Architects know that in order to breathe fresh life into architecture it is not enough simply to focus on technology and sustainability. It is also necessary to explore language, to create an interaction between the art of building and the art of communication. This can be done, for example, by exploiting the expressive immediacy of colour, using large-scale graphic designs, creating facades with large screens and adopting any other means to help convert a building into an urban-scale medium. In the case of the "Girotondo" nursery in the northern Italian city of Piacenza, the designers took the radical approach of reversing the relationship between toys and architecture. The nursery is more than a childcare institution, it is a place where children can explore space as part of an emotional experience based on geometrically elementary units with striking colours. An aspect of children's development is assigned to the exploration of a sense of disproportion, the extraordinary discovery of a fantasy city reminiscent of a toy construction. The building stands in an area originally intended for industrial production which has long been undergoing redevelopment with a view to creating services and locations to promote social cohesion. The project explores the dualistic relationship between artifice and nature through the theme of the pavilion in the park. Its position well away from urban traffic allows it to establish a direct relationship with the natural environment. The site is envisaged as a space where children can begin to understand the natural landscape as a fundamental aspect of existence. The master plan emphasises the centrality of the structure that serves both as a collective space and as a common transit zone towards areas with different functions. The complex is essentially divided into three sections: a play area adjacent to the square that provides exterior access for open-air activities; the room used for resting; and the service block. Extensive use of ceramic tiles ensures that the colours and quality of the surfaces are maintained over time. The exteriors of the nursery buildings are clad with ceramic tiles from Ceramica Vogue, chosen in different colours to distinguish the various age groups. The strong visual impact of the primary colours creates routes with a high sensorial intensity, offering children the opportunity to take part in games and exploit spatial perception as a learning experience. In the interiors, clad with tiles by Gabbianelli, a relaxing white atmosphere prevails, serving as a neutral backdrop to refined decorative motifs that reflect the colours of the exterior cladding.
Gabbianelli, Note di Colore and Tagli di Colore I series
double firing
10x10, 20x20, 10x40 cm
Technical characteristics
Water absorpion (ISO 10545-3): >16%
Chemical resistance (ISO 10545-13): GB min
Stain resistance (ISO 10545-14): compliant
Modulus of rupture and breaking strength (ISO 10545-4): >27 N/mm2
Thermal shock resistance (ISO 10545-9): compliant
Crazing resistance (ISO 10545-11): compliant
Linear thermal expansion (ISO 10545-8): compliant
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