Italian School Competition

San Piero in Bagno, Italy

Completed: January, 1970

Service: Architecture

Client: Italian Government Competition

This competition was for a new school in central Italy. The concept we have created is based on a simple diagram; indicating a rectangular plan form, relating to the existing site grain in this part of San Piero in Bagno. The entrance to the school divides the main space into two areas and leads to a three-storey void containing a climbing wall, which is the ‘heart’ of the new building. To the north are the teaching spaces, three per floor, with toilets and a small group space. To the south are support functions such as the canteen, library and admin areas.


The materials selected for the building are based on high thermal mass to assist with the environmental strategy based upon natural ventilation. The structure will utilise a concrete frame with concrete panels in certain areas, other areas are proposed to be masonry, rubble stone, and curtain walling.

At the northern end of the main block is a separate element, oriented at roughly 10 degrees to the plan related to the geometry of the main piazza in the town. These spaces are for more technical teaching and intended to relate to the public and four-storeys high culminating in a music workshop which can be used for performances. The separation from the main building and its height in relation to the main building is to reflect a traditional Italian ‘Campanile’.

The Roof

The primary element is organised under a single roof plan sloping gently to the west. This contrasts with certain vertical elements including the 4-storey tower, the climbing wall and vertical circulation.

The building is based on the established principles of ‘natural ventilation’. The ‘floating’ roof allows warm air to escape from the top of the building and to draw in cooler air at low level. This will be controlled by sensors and active ventilation louvres which open when a certain temperature is reached. Unlike rooflights, which will close during rainfall, the vertical louvres will remain open to ensure the building maintains the correct level of natural ventilation. Subject to further design development, it may be necessary to introduce fans to assist the passive natural ventilation.