Projects

"The house of the sun" nursery school - Barberino Val d'Elsa (Florence)

A house of colour for children

A kaleidoscope of colours symbolising children's development from the ages of 3 to 6.
Author
Elisa Montalti
Surfaces
CASALGRANDE PADANA
Year of completion
2008

The nursery school located in the village of Bustecca near Barberino Val d’Elsa outside Florence has been renamed «La casa del sole» («The house of the sun») in reference to its warm and brightly lit spaces. It is integrated into the surrounding garden by means of a layout based on small courtyards and the outward facing glazed facades of the classrooms and play areas, filtered through large patios. The structure comprises six classrooms divided into three sections, along with various ancillary spaces. The ground floor houses a play area, a library, offices, a changing room with toilets, a gym, a rest area, a dining area, a storeroom and three service blocks, while the basement features a large multifunctional space.
To distinguish the different classrooms and to improve visibility and communication, particularly considering the age of the children, each section is identified by a different plain colour. Blue, green and yellow were chosen to identify the classrooms. Blue, the colour of intellect, intuition and extra-sensory perception; green, the colour of life, the Earth and nature in continuous regeneration; and yellow, which governs learning and rationality and aids concentration. The classroom floors are tiled with natural finish porcelain in a colour chosen according to the relevant section. The blue, yellow and green modules are set on a white background in a chequerboard pattern angled at 45° with respect to the walls. These tiles in these areas are 40×40 cm in size, whereas those chosen for the bathrooms are smaller (20×20 cm) and plain coloured in keeping with the colour used for the corresponding classroom.
The ground floor spaces are interconnected via a shared distribution area that leads to the classrooms and communal areas, representing a symbolic pathway through the children’s various stages of learning and development. This section features forms and colours that have been specially designed by the architect and are expressed through the use of ceramic tiles. The architect commented: «Considering that drawing is the first form of communication for nursery age children, we decided to design the floors in these spaces with simple and easily comprehensive geometric shapes based on combinations of tiles of different colours.» With this in mind, coloured glossy tiles were installed on a white glossy background to create a pathway that appears to be drawn by three large pencils in the colours identifying the three sections. The entrance area displays small houses created from coloured tiles as welcoming symbols for the young children.

Tiles
Granitogres, Ecogres series
Unicolore, Caleidoscopio series
Type
porcelain stoneware
Sizes
20x20, 40x40 cm
Colours
Blu, Bianco B, Verde, Rosso Mattone, Ocra, Cocco, Rosso Selenio, Menta, Pistacchio, Marina, Oceano, Caffè, Anice, Caramel
Technical characteristics
Water absorpion (ISO 10545-3): ≤ 0,10%
Chemical resistance (ISO 10545-13): uga
Resistance to deep abrasion (ISO 10545-6): 140
Stain resistance (ISO 10545-14): conforme
Frost resistance (ISO 10545-12): conforme
Modulus of rupture and breaking strength (ISO 10545-4): N/mm2 45÷60
Slip resistance (DIN 51130): R9A
Thermal shock resistance (ISO 10545-9): conforme
Crazing resistance (ISO 10545-11): conforme
Linear thermal expansion (ISO 10545-8): conforme
Certifications and awards
LEED
EMAS
ISO 14001
NF UPEC
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