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The Forest Boat Elementary School

Architecture and Education co-operate to illustrate energetic efficiency and sustainability to the children.

The school design main target was to realize a real scale “sustainability workshop”. The innovative didactical use of the construction technologies is useful for the children to comprehend the consistent energetic gains achieved.
The project has been part of a participative process that covered the entire school year.
Teachers and students expressed their needs and expectations to the project team. Thanks to several visits at the construction site, the children checked the building growth and they were able to experience the materials.
“The big brain”, this is the expression students use to name the touch screen desktop of the building automation system central control, located in the school entrance. It regulates the electric and mechanic systems’ functions and it has been customized with teachers in order to become consistent part of the didactical program concerning sustainability.
The children gave a huge contribution to realize all the colorful facilities located in several parts of the school through a learn-by-playing approach.
Through these elements, the teachers are able to easily explain notions concerning the building’s functioning, the energetic gains achieved and the low environmental impact. To teach means to learn. Everyone learns and everyone teaches.
The school is bright, comfortable, colorful, full of glimpses, points of view. It contains several spaces where people can meet, socialize, play, but it is also a place of co-operation, know-how sharing, confrontation, where it is pleasant to learn by playing.
The concrete structure is earthquake-proof. All the partitions are made of dry technologies which will facilitate future transformations and maintenance. All the classroom face the south direction with a large glazed surface to maximize the energetic gain from the direct radiation during the winter. The north side, facing the residential area, is made of a refined timber finishing. The façades towards the fields are more traditional.
The entire building is powered by district-heating and solar panels. A consistent part of the electric energy comes from the photovoltaic panels on the roof (20kW) and from the tiny ship-shaped exterior furniture (around 1,5kW). The meteoric water, stored into underground tanks, fills the didactical pond and the sewage-treatment plant.
The garden represents a precious educational resource to learn, by playing, how to recognize colors, periodicity and alternation of natural cycles. It has been designed and assembled to recreate a place where to have fun, to socialize, to be creative and, more than else, to comprehend nature by observing and experimenting. The “forest boat”, stranded on the pond’s border, is part of a big green area, where all the senses can be used to experience the surrounding environment. A place where teachers and students can test each other.
The progect got the “ABB Enertgy Efficiency Award 2011” (for the innovative contribution of the Building Automation Systems), the “2010 Revealed Architectures award” (for the brilliant way the design approached the relation between construction and agricultural landscape) and the “Ancitel – Energy and Environment – 2010 edition” (for the best energetic efficiency in a district with less than 10.000 inhabitants).

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An approach to restoration that allows to preserve and highlight the historical memory of the place by enhancing the building economic value.

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