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2022 Sistema Pedagogico 001

Year 2022
Location Borgo San Lorenzo, Italy
Architects UHO
Client Italian Ministry of Education
Type Two stage competition
Category Architecture

What is a school? Of course, it is the machine for educating future generations and hopefully for reducing social differences. But a school is also a public service responsible for protecting its users, the pupils. This condition implies a separation.

One might question this separation, trying to domesticate it. No doubt we will see attempts to "soften it," to "open the school to the community," and to "establish porosity."

But what if we turn the separation from a seemingly negative aspect into a positive one? What does this separation allow?
Drawing on past experiences such as the oasis court and the hortus conclusus, we propose a simple scheme.

A wall surrounds the school. It is white to maximally reflect the sun, and a hint of vegetation can be seen on its top. What lies behind it? A world accessible only to those who cross the wall's threshold.

Behind the wall, a controlled environment, protected from the wind, allows ad hoc vegetation to grow and provide a micro-climate without resorting to potentially failing technologies.


We propose a prototypical System consisting of two foundational elements:

  1. The garden-oasis, surrounded by an opaque wall;
  2. A compact one-story building containing the essential functional program.

Sistema Pedagogico proposes a strategy consisting of the following architectural components:

  • Opaque boundary wall (the necessary separation in each school)
  • Porous horizontal surfaces (absorb rainwater and nourish roots)
  • Lush vegetation (with shade reduces temperatures in summer and generates micro-convective motions)
  • Running water in outdoor areas (to cool and prevent mosquitoes)
  • Light color of vertical surfaces (reflect the sun's heat)
  • Cover = Playground for sports activities and various uses
  • Waste water treatment and circular reuse in a closed system to maintain the garden-oasis, taking advantage of the utility scale of a public school's collective program.
  • Ideally, the outdoor space and its users are the product of collective discussions among administrative staff, teachers, technical staff and pupils.