Claudio Lucchin creates the first underground school in Italy in Bolzano

A challenge coming from opposition to skyscrapers and their invasive verticality

by Malcolm Clark

The new Expansion of the vocational school 'Hannah Arendt' in Bolzano, inaugurated on December 19th, is the work of the Claudio Lucchin & architetti associati Angelo Rinaldo e Daniela Varnier of Bolzano.

It is the first underground school in Italy. The designers call it “an already won a bet [...] and a stimulus to think about land use and the “underground cities” as opposed to town and conceptual planning of skyscrapers and their invasive verticality.”

In the South Tyrolean capital, it was a question of expanding the vocational school for social professions 'Hannah Arendt ' situated in the historical centre, in the former Capuchin monastery – a listed building,” say Cleaa architects. “They needed eleven new classrooms, plus four laboratories.”

Architect Claudio Lucchin thus created an underground appendix: four excavated floors, after consolidating the perimeter with micropiles, a bearing structure of reinforced concrete and, above all, a number of solutions to address the four main problems of living underground: light, a sense of claustrophobia, ventilation and humidity.

The key to the operation consisted of a large skylight and the glazed walls surrounding the rooms: five classrooms each on the first two floors, four laboratories in the third basement and the technical rooms in the fourth.

The result is surprising for many aspects: natural light filters in through the skylight and plenty of classrooms overlook a spacious interior courtyard used as an interior 'agora'. No sense of claustrophobia, on the contrary: the feeling of a lively and engaging place. The humidity was eliminated with foamed walls, while ventilation is guaranteed by a planned air exchange system.

    Ampliamento della scuola superiore 'Hannah  Arendt' 31

    Ampliamento della scuola superiore 'Hannah Arendt'

    Bolzano / Italy / 2013