Playing with Contrasts: Refurbishment and Expansion of a School near Verona
Client: Gemeinde Villafranca
Architects: Giulia de Appolonia Architetto
Location: Strada della Rizza, 37069 Rizza, Verona/Villafranca (IT)
Spatially, the building forms the natural end of the church square and a counterpart to the church opposite. Both structures create a new urban situation and interact. The school’s foyer, which features double ceiling height, becomes a generous threshold and connection between exterior and interior space. A roofed area at the entrance functions as a transitional element between the various scales of the surroundings. While the two-storey foyer accentuates the spaciousness of the building, the roofed-in area takes its cue from the nearby suburban structures and the little pupils of the school. Tinted wood-fibre panels dominate the interior. Their eye-catching colours set a deliberate contrast to the grey of the exposed concrete, and their specific characteristics make them easy to use as wall cladding, doors and many types of interior fittings. Moreover, the colour accents help the pupils navigate the building and give each area its own identity.
The structural interventions and changes to both the interior and the building itself can primarily be understood as an energetic, artistic upgrade to the schoolhouse and the town. Among other things, the work concentrated on reorganizing the ground floor, redesigning it as an open, flexible spatial program with a small auditorium. The renovation of the façade comprises new window elements, the additional use of polycarbonate to improve the building’s U-value, as well as extra layers of insulation in the opaque wall areas. The resulting double polycarbonate façade on the exterior and a perforated one on the inside of parts of the school also make for optimal sound insulation. Ventilation grids on the underside and motorized flaps on the top side of the façade provide a good exchange of air. As a contrast between the main thoroughfare and educational institution, grey concrete and vivid colour produce conceptual interplays on a variety of levels. Giulia de Appolonia and her team have succeeded with this sleek building that has a touch of the industrial, yet surprises in just the right places with carefully placed elements. The result is an ambivalent body, simultaneously diffident and striking, like the town itself.