The impressive potential acquired by a child in its first years of life leads us to think deeply about the responsibility of designing an elementary school. We firmly believe in the pedagogical value of architecture and in its capability to generate spaces where, in combination with a proper educational task children can both grow and develop themselves in a stimulating, appealing and safe way during their first three years.
The building is located at the NW side of the new neighborhood of Buztintxuri (Pamplona) within an area including three additional public buildings.
The main axis of the plot is on a north-south direction. West orientation, where the main entrance is placed, is disturbed by the loud traffic noise generated in the nearby heavily used outer ring. The west façade acts as a boundary with the adjacent plot.
Based upon these circumstances we decided to organize the building as a series of four parallel bodies in which fully built and empty areas are alternated.
A first body, accommodating administration and services, is placed at the outer public west side, and it accomplishes a filtering role against external noise. Access to the building through the main entrance takes place at one of the edges of this first body; a roofed conservatory and a small garden are sited in this area for the purpose of dignifying the way in.
The empty central space has an intense natural illumination through a skylight clearly emerging over the rest of the building. This generates a double height space that vertebrates the building as a whole: the corridor or meeting point that provides access to the various learning modules. Linearity of this space is interrupted by the kitchen and the central workshop that will try to catch the attention of the children.
A third body contents the infantile areas, grouped into four modules according to the children’s ages. In each module, optimum integration between classroom, workshops, refectories, toilettes and bedrooms is searched in order to guarantee both proper and natural ventilation and illumination in every room.
Lastly, the external backyard is thought as a prolongation of the space of the classrooms through the opening of large windows. A two meters eaves allows the covered circulation at the same time that it protects the classrooms from the summer sun. The orientation of the backyard guarantees not only the presence of the sun inside the building but also the desired privacy trying to avoid the external traffic. The use of different colours and textures (concrete, rubber, rolling stones, grass and wooded area) lets us create suggestive and varied playing spaces for children.
The organization of the inner space of the classrooms as well as the design of the furniture has been planned taking into account both children’s and their educators’ different perceptions of spaces.
On one hand, children’s activities are organized based upon several series of thematic ‘corners’ perfectly adapted to their scale where they can develop different activities in a flexible way. As a result of this, massive and maladjusted spaces to work by groups of different sizes are avoided.
On the other hand, educators must have children under visual control from any point of the classroom.
West façade is protected against the direct evening sun through a structural lattice composed by vertical slats which are basically created by steel rhombus-shaped section pillars.