Toddlers Primary School - Formigine (MO)

Educational architecture and design

An outstanding example of school architecture in the province of Modena enriches children's learning experience
Elena Pasoli
Vanni Borghi
Michele Zini | ZPZ Partners
Year of completion

An intense dialogue between architecture, educational science and environmentally sustainable construction are the essential elements of the Toddler Bilingual School in Formigine, in the province of Modena. The approximately 1,000 square metre building is located in a green area of more than 4,000 square metres, 70% of which consists of entirely permeable surfaces. The use of concrete is kept to a minimum, even in the foundations, thanks to the choice of a wooden frame structure with rock wool insulation.
Both the architecture and the furnishings of this highly innovative school were designed by ZPZ Partners, a practice which counts educational buildings amongst its areas of specialisation. ZPZ’s founder Michele Zini in fact wrote the “Guidelines for the school of the future” with INDIRE (National Institute for Documentation, Innovation and Educational Research).
“The basic idea behind this project was to break away from the model of a school organised around classrooms, corridors and the needs of traditional teaching methods,” Michele Zini explains. “All the areas face directly onto a large central plaza which serves as a relational space, a place for small group activities or assemblies that is also ideal for meetings with parents and the community. It extends around a central green space that allows natural light to flow in and also features a dining and workshop area facing directly onto the kitchen. We organised the entire structure around juxtaposed pavilions, which create an internal roof of varying heights and outdoor activity areas that serve as a continuation of the internal spaces and transform the school’s perimeter into a permeable, functional membrane connecting the interior and exterior.”
In order to foster the children’s cognitive development, the interior is a highly multisensorial space with a wide variety of finishes and materials, a variety of light sources generating diaphanous yet clearly defined shadows, and a magnificent colour palette consisting of shades that go well beyond primary colours and play deftly with the natural light originating from the skylights and the central garden. The ceramic tiles, all supplied by Florim, play an important role. The Neutra 6.0 collection slabs from Casa dolce casa – Casamood are large surfaces (240×120 cm) with deep colours and material patterns that signal the entrances to the rooms; the Rex Extra Light mosaics are like droplets of light in the bathrooms juxtaposed with wood and ceramics; the Planches de Rex floor tiles create a continuous pattern of exceptional visual quality that echoes the wood of the structure and the hipped ceiling. “The ceramic materials we have chosen contribute to the equilibrium between filmic (applied) and intrinsic (native) colours, creating a complex yet harmonious environment for the children’s educational adventure,” says Michele Zini.
The furnishings play an equally important role and were designed together with the architecture to make a decisive contribution to the material and colour scheme of the environment. They were mostly supplied by PLAY+ and are all made from strictly non-toxic materials and based on more than twenty years of research in partnership with Reggio Children.

Planches de Rex
porcelain stoneware
26,5x180 - 4,6x60 cm
Technical characteristics
Water absorpion (ISO 10545-3): average value 0,08%
Chemical resistance (ISO 10545-13): UA
Resistance to deep abrasion (ISO 10545-6): average value 140 mm3
Stain resistance (ISO 10545-14): conforme
Frost resistance (ISO 10545-12): conforme
Modulus of rupture and breaking strength (ISO 10545-4): average value 50 N/mm2
Slip resistance (DIN 51130): R10 MATTE, R11 STRUTTURATA
Thermal shock resistance (ISO 10545-9): conforme
Certifications and awards
ISO 14001
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