The Kid University (UPI) is an experimental initiative proposed by the Municipality of Gandía. The UPI is not a conventional kindergarten, but a group of specialized classrooms and workshops located in a natural setting where kids can develop their creativity and have fun beyond a school context. The proposed volume does not alter the Ausías March Park’s layout. Indeed, it respects the position of six existing white mulberry trees, arranging the classrooms around them and shaping a central lobed courtyard. Library, computers, painting, photography, auditorium, theatre and music classrooms are arranged around the mulberry trees. This courtyard is the core of the Kid University, linking open spaces, covered areas and indoor rooms. Towards the exterior, the building exhibits a sober and continuous facade, serving as a sort of palisade, that avoids building up fences.
White coloured ceramic tiles are the material both for facades and roof. From the outside, the building intends to be a light, white ceramic fence where the shade of the nearby trees is reflected. Vernacular architecture in this Mediterranean area uses ceramic that does not need any maintenance and adapts naturally to its mild climate. In summer it reflects the strong local light and protects inside from high temperatures. In the patio the facades are transparent so all mulberry trees can be seen from the classrooms. The inside finishings are linoleum for pavements and cork for ceilings as sound absorbent material, combined with the concrete structure walls. Sustainability is achieved by the own concept of the building. Cost was tight and both structure and construction are finishing’s and conditioning. The interior is shaded from the intense summer sun by the mulberry trees that attenuate solar irradiation and cast scattered shadows to the interior of classrooms.In winter mulberry trees have no leaves and sun and light enter freely in the classrooms. So artificial lighting is reduced to the essential. Once spring has transformed the trees and they are full of leaves they become a natural shade for children.
Ceramic piece. The ceramic pieces are serial components 20 x 20 x 5 cm in size, with 4 waves formed on their surface, each with a 4 cm diameter on one side and four flat boards on the other side. The flat side is necessary for the manufacture and firing of the three dimensional piece, and at design phase, consideration was given to the requirement to not discard this material after firing, but rather use it after the complete enamelling of the piece, in the construction of the roof of the building. In this way, the possibilities of the ceramic piece are fully taken advantage of, using the leftover ceramic and doubling the usage of square meters built.
The pieces are made of stoneware, are obtained through the extrusion process, and are screen enamelled in a disk cabinet with a matt white enamel that is made in house and fired at high temperature (1250 °C) to ensure compliance with the regulations in force with respect to ice, and to attack by acids and alkalis, whilst also having a high resistance to impact. The pieces, now enamelled, are cut through the middle, and both sides separated. Both A and B sides, now separate, have, on their non enamelled interior, a dovetail to ease attachment to the walls and roof.
Tile of Spain Awards ASCER 2011. Distinctions of honor Architecture category
Gandia City Council
Ángela García de Paredes
Alfonso G. Gaite GOGAITE S.L. (Structural engineering)
JG Ingenieros, S.A. (Mechanical engineering)
Antonio García Blay (Technical control)
Roland Halbe (images 1, 3, 5, 6, 8, 10-12, 14, 15)
Luis Asín (images 4, 7, 9, 13)
Paredes-Pedrosa (image 2)