6'768 mᶟ

Start of construction

January 2009


November 2010

Architect / architect Team

celoria Architects sagl

Construction engineer

Chiesa & Partners SA, Chiasso

The existing school in Balerna is divided into separated buildings: the main building where there are the primary and secondary school classrooms and two sports halls for the sporting activities. A large space is occupied by wonderful sycamore trees which defined the main connection path between the buildings. The piece of earth where the new extension for the special activities of the secondary school is built is facing a main street of the town. The complexity both of the site and of the extension theme and the relationships with the context give the opportunity to make a synthetic research. The new building is not only the place for the new special activities classrooms but must also offer a space for socializing and meeting people. The role of the school in the urban structure of the Balerna town is made clear and visible with the settlement chosen for the new extension. The main planning idea is to use the double-square form to define a sequence of solid and a void. The new building (the solid) is organized along the street completing the urban front. In this way, the project becomes a visual landmark for the campus and defines the school buildings hierarchy. A green grass lowered field is the void which is the dialogue element between the new extension and the existing sycamore trees. This clear system also characterizes the accesses and all the circulation areas. The grass void square offer a protected environment for the children to play and it is the element that forms a visual unity between all the campus buildings.

The square form of the building is oriented by the structure. The north and south elevations are characterized by a concrete white wall which is moving like a wave. The main static areas are the places where the wave touches the ground and the other floors. The east and west elevations are completely horizontally glazed, offering a wide view on the Balerna landscape. The combination of these two systems, thanks to the precompression creates a plastic volume, a building sculpture. The ceilings are made of a concrete structural grid. A wide porch gives access to the building. The functional organization on each floor is the same. The central space of the square is occupied by the staircase, the lift and the service-spaces. All the classrooms are organized on the east and west sides.

The new school building is considered as an experimental space, a laboratory, a place for research. For these reasons the spaces and the materials must offer a solid and neutral atmosphere leaving free interpretation and creativity. The whole building is white, the spaces are defined by different shades of warm whites. The white concrete used as main structure is perceived as a “living” material, it is smooth and if you get close to it you can see the concrete aggregate, the Zandobbio marble. The window frames are made of burnished steel for a shiny and classical atmosphere.The non-structural walls are painted in black and used as blackboard for drawings and writings.

The building is conceived in respect of all the energy saving possibilities, in order to create a well-being and high quality space. The heating system is using the geothermal heat and on the roof there is a photovoltaic system. The building follows all the Minergie standards except from the forced ventilation.