Large overhangs and huge windows, wood and concrete, communal spaces that encourage encounters, classrooms that can be extended outside. This project for the secondary school building of the Pablo Picasso School near Salamanca seeks to generate a friendly, cheerful space that the students can take ownership of.
The building occupies the northern part of the site. In order to avoid the shadow cast by another of the school structures, it is raised one level. This creates a 300 m2 porch at ground floor. It provides a space for the students to take shelter on days when it rains or is too sunny.
As it rises, the first floor overcomes the shadow cast by this other building, and through the large windows of each classroom, it opens up to receive the sun’s rays every winter. Wide cantilevered slabs are added to the south façade. During summer, they will shade the interior of the classrooms, protecting the glass from direct sunlight in summer and thus improving the building’s energy efficiency.
These simple gestures –raising, opening up, opening out– provide shelter during playtime, generous lighting in the classrooms in winter and plenty of protection from the heat in summer, and also give each classroom a south-facing outdoor space in which to expand.
These gestures also confer the building its humble but characteristic appearance. We leave the materials exposed. Wood and concrete convey clarity and allow students to intervene and create their own universe in their learning space.
On the ground floor, in this large porch, the music room, which is noisier, and the art room are located. Both can be opened to the outside and function in a multi-purpose way.
Corridors and staircases are designed as part of the educational experience. There are no long corridors with classrooms on either side. Instead, a short corridor and a wide, open, double-height stairwell are designed, and small expansions are linked to encourage gatherings. This circulation area faces north, creating a thermal buffer for the classrooms, and is lit by a skylight to improve energy efficiency and spatial quality.
The architecture is modular. Rectangular, versatile and diaphanous classrooms can be used in an interdisciplinary and multifunctional way. Materials provide both the warmth of wood and the contemporaneity of concrete.
Clarity, simplicity, order, generosity, light, protection from the heat and the rain. Through responsible decisions a universe is created in which the students can participate, create their own place, learn and develop emotional and social links.
The Pablo Picasso Secondary School joins other of our educational projects such as the Villimar Early Years and Primary School, Burgos, and the educational prototypes that we have developed for Kuwait within the framework of the Kuwait’s Plan 2035.