A gorgeous solar-powered kindergarten has risen from the ruins of two Italian schools damaged by a 2012 earthquake. Located in Reggio Emilia, the new Guastalla School was designed by Mario Cucinella Architects (MCA), a Bologna-based studio that was awarded the design/build bid in a 2014 architecture competition. In addition to improved safety measures, the new school incorporates a variety of energy efficient technologies including a rooftop photovoltaic system and rainwater harvesting.
The 1,400-square-meter co-ed kindergarten serves up to 120 students, all younger than three years old. The building is mostly transparent and comprises glazed facades punctuated at even intervals by slat-like wood frames. Large, curvaceous shapes are cut out from the center of every wood frame to allow natural light and movement pass through. When viewed from one end of the building, the stacked frames create the beautiful illusion of an endless cave.
“[The] project is thought to stimulate the child’s interaction with the surrounding space according to a vision of ‘teaching’ in which nothing is left to chance, from the distribution of educational areas to the choice of materials of construction, up to the integration between indoor and outdoor space,” write the architects. The choice of natural and recycled construction materials helps the building maintain a low environmental impact. Engaging outdoor play areas and gardens surround the school. Rainwater harvested from the roof is reused in the bathrooms and for irrigation.
Images via Mario Cucinella Architects, © Moreno Maggi