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Matteo Defendini


Located in a dry area cultivated with sunflowers, the new school for 350 children comes from the absence of a formation centre for many poor children. The deep respect and understanding of the local environment, climate, technologies, materials, users needs and the use of a contemporary vernacular language, they have represented the main resources to think an architecture that, agitating the status quo, aspire to be a catalyst for the socio-economic development of that area founded on the education of a new generation.

From the beginning, the sunflower has been the main source of inspiration, as symbol of hope - the flower blossomed as metaphor of a new life - but even as formal and functional reference. In this sense, the classrooms are divided into 24 petals (domes), arranged radially around an external corolla (portico) and an internal one (patio). Realized through the technique of the compass and using as material the local soil, compacted into bricks and then baked, the domes are organised in three distinct dimensions for comply with the local climate. 7 classrooms are located at East, in the bigger 9 domes in contact between them to block the heavy wind and the sand coming from that side. At North and at South there are 8 domes for the administration and other social functions, illuminated uniformly all over the year thanks to the typical equatorial trajectory of the sun. At West there are the smaller 8 domes for the kindergarten classes and others spaces of service, separated between them to permit a visual contact with the surrounding nature. Finally, the intersection of the 24 domes of the portico send the rain water toward special grills in the soil until an underground cistern set under the central well, the geometrical and symbolical centre of the project.


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