A School in a Park: Sant’Urbano Primary School Extension and Garden by

2024 Schools and Playgrounds / Italy / Built in 2022 /

A project conceived together with the school community: the Park of Culture and Sport.

Starting from the need to expand the existing school with three new classrooms, we proposed to the public administration a participatory initiative, involving dialogue with the educational community. Central to the discourse was our suggestion to improve the current school and sports facilities along with their garden, conceptualized as a Culture and Sport Park. Engaging the school community, the discussion entailed multiple sessions with the school’s administrative team, parent representatives, sports hall operators, swimming pool managers, and select local associations.

The meetings within this participatory process significantly impacted both the architectural and landscape designs, responding to several emerging needs: 1) Designing a multipurpose hall, conceived as a nexus between the school and the park, and usable beyond school hours; 2) Imagining a quality of the internal spaces and the corridor, used for students recreation on bad weather days; 3) Prioritizing the enhancement for the outdoor space with shaded areas, new vegetation and trees in the school campus; 4) Ensuring rapid construction times to meet the urgent need to make room for the new students of the complex.

Continuity and enhancement of the existing school and garden.
Despite differing in construction type and external finish, the expansion is in continuity with the existing building, assuming the width and height of the main body and a similar arrangement of openings in the main facades. Compared to the existing school, the classrooms have been rotated to optimize natural lighting, with desks illuminated laterally, placing the teacher’s desk on the short side. This rotation also allowed for a wider corridor, more spacious compared to the existing layout. The roof design, divided into three slopes to lower the ridge height, ensures proportionality with the existing structure while enhancing visibility and recognition within the Park. The chosen construction technology, insulated precast concrete panels, allowed rapid construction times in response to the urgent space needs expressed during the participatory process.
A hall accessible beyond school hours, was developed based on feedback from the school community. Designed for both school collective activities and independent use, it features a separate entrance, dedicated bathrooms, and autonomous air conditioning system. The hall’s full-height glass and roof design contribute to its prominence at the northern entrance of the Park, and a visual connection to the cycling network. Furthermore, the see-through aspect of the hall provides a perspective view of the school corridor towards the trees, integrating school spaces with the surrounding environment.

Fine modulo
Inhabited hallway: an equipped space to stay and play.
The area between the new classrooms has been placed in close physical and visual relationship with the common spaces of the entire school. Enlarged at the junction with the existing school, this space assumes dimensions, luminosity, and connections with the exterior environment that make it ideal for recreational and playful pursuits.

Recognizing the hallway’s significance as more than just a transit zone but also a meeting point for students from different classes and a venue for indoor play on bad weather days, it has been meticulously designed and executed with wooden paneling. This paneling serves multiple functions, providing storage, seating, and play areas while also concealing the air conditioning and ventilation system, along with plant ducts and technical compartments. Moreover, the use of wood helps mitigate room reverberation. A skylight spanning the entire length of the corridor enhances its ambiance by allowing natural light to permeate the space.

Building comfort and air quality: a NZEB school.
The choice of construction type, in thermal cut concrete panels with high thickness insulation, compensates for the presence of large glass surfaces. In addition, the mass of concrete guarantees adequate thermal inertia, capable of allowing a thermal delay of more than 12 hours. This construction characteristic, combined with shading of the glass surfaces, allows the classrooms to be comfortable in the hottest days and thanks to the use of renewable energy sources through the installation of photovoltaic panels, classifies the building as NZEB, namely as a Nearly Zero Energy Building.

To ensure winter comfort in classrooms and recreational spaces, a low-temperature radiant floor heating system has been installed. Moreover, a mechanical ventilation system has been engineered to provide supplementary airflow, complementing natural ventilation through the opening of windows if needed, to ensure a healthy indoor environment. This system proves beneficial during summer months, enhancing thermal delay performance by enabling nighttime cooling through external air. Presence and lighting sensors further optimize energy usage by adjusting illumination levels according to environmental conditions and occupancy, thereby reducing the building’s overall energy footprint.

A School in a Park: Sant’Urbano Primary School Extension and Garden in Padua, Italy

Architecture office involved in the design:
Studio Archpiùdue, Paolo Miotto Mauro Sarti Architetti Associati
Paolo Miotto, Architect
Mauro Sarti, Architect
Luca Nicoletto, Architect
Maria Rosa Beda, Architect

Other landscape architecture offices involved in the design of landscape:
Pamela Nichele, Agronomist

Sant’Urbano, Padova

Design year:

Year Completed:


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