THE CITY AS BACKDROP
SANT MIQUEL SPECIAL EDUCATION SCHOOL: REFORM AND EXTENSION OF A BUILDING WITH A LISTED FAÇADE
Apart from its mere built container, a school is nothing more than a place where teaching and learning take place. This project, therefore, reflects the desire to interact with the city, revealing the flows and activities that occur within the immediate environment of the site. Moreover, this school converges with the work of the Xamfrà Sant Miquel Foundation, which is devoted to preparing young people with mild mental disabilities for integration into employment: we are committed to integrating its pupils into society and work so that they form part of the social fabric.
A triangular volume, with ground floor and basement, adjoins the north side (providing optimal lighting for study), whilst the rectangle of the existing building occupies the east corner. The triangular extension is low-rise in order to minimise the environmental impact of new works. Finally, a courtyard provides the rooms in the basement with natural light and ventilation.
All routes through the common zones in the school are designed to become “places of social attraction” – spaces for encounters, meetings and exchanges, generously proportioned, enjoying natural lighting and, always, open to the city as backdrop.
In short, all the decisions taken to define the project seek to further these rich and subtle relations between the interior and the exterior. The solutions include, for example, the design of the steel net “non-fence”, the patterned front, the light-filled common spaces, the new windows over the existing building and the longitudinal skylight that provides the overall architecture for communications. All these solutions are aimed particularly at generating relations between the inhabitants and the immediate landscape of the city, precisely so that this place can become a space for teaching and learning.