The School as Social Playground
Learning Cities – Schools of Social Life_Andrea Giannotti
Primary and secondary schools are the places where the children experience their growth from kindergarten kids onto little students. This first stage in education requires some special attention, and especially so in the building spaces: their shape, atmosphere, materials, colors, as well as their functions, their ability to inspire and to invite. The architect confronts with the necessities of the kids, and the school spaces need to answer their specific demands.
While in kindergartens rooms we could frequently find links with the fantasy world, in school buildings the spaces are modeled along the requirements of learning programs, that mainly take place in classrooms and physical activity spaces. Then there may be canteen and cafeteria rooms, spaces for sleep and rest, outer or inner sport fields.
Beside these spaces, the school buildings of this selection have one important feature in common: the presence of the “relation spaces”, or “common spaces”. They have no definite function but connecting the various rooms together, and thus offering the students a place to meet, talk and play, inside the school, but outside the classrooms.
The common space, relatively new in school buildings, has a central role in preparing the students to confront social life, and in shaping their individuality in relation with the others.
This feature proposes a link between the school’s relation spaces and their cultural and geographical context, as to highlight the qualities of the projects in terms of function, materials, and of course sustainability. All of these aspects have strong influence on the students’ personal and social understanding of life.
Culture for Resistance
Culture for Resistance_Francesco Zuddas
In an age of rampant commodification of all human values, advocating culture might sound like just one more word used in vain against the forces of capital that continue undisturbed in their action of erosion of anything that does not have an immediate monetary value. The same could be said for another term, city. When anything can be ascribed to the capillary condition of the urban, speaking of a city is increasingly far from the idea of some sort of social bond holding together a society. Yet, if we look at the etymological trajectory followed by the terms culture and city, we can start envisaging how both contain an element of opposition against two other words that are often mistaken as their synonyms: civilization and urbanization. In fact, the history of the 20th-century architecture and urbanism has been shaped by the constant battle between those couples of terms and their respective advocates. In this sense, culture can be considered a strategy of resistance.
Seen as a response to the constant fluctuations and uncertainty of market-driven urbanization, the adjective “cultural” adds a generic characterization to the buildings to which it is attached, with the risk of turning them into mere containers for multiple functions.