'Learning by playing' with R studio

A Valencia nursery school 'plays' with reinforced concrete

by Malcolm Clark
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The Spanish architecture office Rstudio had to tackle many difficulties when designing the Pio Baroja Nursery school project in Valencia. Some of them were due to the school's position close to a very busy road, avenida Pio Baroja, and surrounded by very tall buildings, others were connected to the choice of materials used.

The creation of an internal courtyard offers the intimacy and the safety necessary for the normal teaching and social activity of the institute, distancing the traffic from the children's classrooms. The high Cor-ten steel blade fence surrounding it is the first ambivalent element of the project.

On the one hand its very harsh industrial or rather post-industrial appearance and on the other its function which aims at improving the liveability of the spaces. Reinforced concrete walls which remind of Brutalist style extend from the courtyard to the outside of the classrooms but are made less harsh by a series of round holes of various dimensions which can be passageways, spy-holes or hiding places...

Inside many divisions, like those of the services, are made with polished acrylic panels which contrast with the grey concrete walls, creating visual pathways within the building. The flexible internal distribution allows two-way circulation between the inside and the outside, improving ventilation which exploits the excellent local climate, along with the favourable alignment of the building.