Un plan abierto. Continuidad espacial y social en la arquitectura escolar: experiencias y propuestas para espacios educativos innovadores en áreas críticas

Serboli, Margherita
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The architectural space is a proactive part of the social construction of individuals, being at the same time product and promoter of human actions. Its quality therefore plays a significant role in the public sphere, and it is particularly relevant in the educational dimension. The school is a built environment that affects the way people experience the world and the social relationships since childhood. Its space must be designed considering socialization development, as well as the cultural processes activated by the architectural quality. Italy has historically heavily invested in adapting educational spaces to innovative pedagogical premises. These orientations, based on the experience of Professor Loris Malaguzzi (1920-1994) in Reggio Emilia, have led to the construction of important references at the international level. However, these experiences are mainly located in the North of the Country, while the school architecture of the southern regions has been following with a dramatic delay and unsatisfying results. Southern schools, according to recent reports, lack constructive adequacy and architectural innovation. At the same time, a dissolution of the public space of aggregation is taking place in many areas of southern territory. Architectural degradation is particularly evident in marginal districts, affected by urban segregation and, thus, excluded from cultural and economic life. This research starts from a personal experience as a teacher in Sicily and it’s based on the direct observation of its social emergencies, its public space dissolution and the impoverishment of its educational spaces. In its approach, this work aims to demonstrate the need of schools open to context, extended to the community, by serving as public spaces. This principle, extensible to any social environment, becomes a priority in marginal contexts, where the need for appropriation and identification is more urgent. This work is also based on the conviction that space appropriation processes are more effective when the community is involved in the definition of objectives and requirements, through participatory design practices. For this reason, this work explores international proposals in search of benchmarks that, through different forms of participation, have exploited the educational architecture as a resource for social and cultural activation in critical contexts. This research includes an experimental phase of participatory design with children from a Sicilian school. The results of this experience, developed with the Design Thinking method, are compared to the architectural principles of a best practice, identified among the reference projects. This comparison provides coincidences that outline concepts that can be considered transferable if they are adapted to each context ​
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