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This Bold and Funky Italian Kindergarten Was Built to Expand Kids' Minds

A school built for discovery and delight

Designed by Mario Cucinella Architects, every detail in this curve-loving kindergarten in Gustalla, Italy, was designed to stimulate a child's mind, from the arrangement of classroom spaces clad in natural wood to the integration of unexpected elements like sloping floors.

The 15,000-square-foot (roughly 1,400-square-meter) school's non-standard rooms and hallways were crafted to create moments of discovery and delight. Uniquely shaped play niches are interspersed through the building, and low interior windows let children peer into adjacent rooms.

The structure looks something like a cell that's been sliced, slide-mounted, and stretched out, a science experiment you can walk inside. The spaces between these cross-sections are filled with glass or wood panels, creating exterior walls or windows that fill the interior with light.

The building's natural wood frame is both eco-friendly and energy-efficient, contributing to the thermal insulation of the building.

Passive house building techniques -- including thick insulation and a large number of windows to take advantage of solar gain -- helped to reduce the building's mechanical systems, making more room for play.

Completed in 2015 to replace a pair of schools damaged in a 2012 earthquake, the school accommodates 120 children between the ages of 0 and 3.

Our physical spaces can operate like programs on our minds, guiding us to think and behave in certain ways. Since school architecture is motivated by expenses and efficiency, it's particularly delightful to come across a beautiful building meant to subvert that standard-issue thinking.

Kindergarten in Guastalla (RE) - Italy [Architizer]

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