Children’s Innovation Centre, Valencia Architecture, Spanish Ceramic Building, Architect, Design
Children’s Innovation Centre in Valencia
Technology Park Building in Spain – design by Foursquare Arquitectos
6 Mar 2013
Children’s Education and Innovation Centre in Valencia
A picture book design for the Children’s Education and Innovation Centre in Valencia’s Technology Park
Design: Foursquare Arquitectos
The versatility of Spanish ceramics enables a playful interaction between colour and shape for the new Children’s Innovation Centre in Valencia, Spain, by Foursquare Arquitectos
The increasing growth of the Technology Park on the outskirts of Valencia resulted in a pressing need for easily accessible day care facilities for employees’ children, thus Spanish firm Foursquare Arquitectos were commissioned to design a new Children’s Education and Innovation Centre within the grounds. The scheme had greater ambitions, however, than simply filling in a gap in the childcare market. The centre was also conceived to champion educational innovation and to inspire its young occupants to explore the world around them… with the architecture of the project playing a key role in that aspiration.
Project leader Ana Garcia Sala of Foursquare Arquitectos envisioned a development in which the buildings formed an ‘emotional’ component of the pedagogical ideal. Inspired by observing children at play, Sala designed a ‘family’ of brightly hued circular structures, externally clad in bespoke ceramics. “The colour encourages a transmission of sensations from both inside and out, creating a space that stimulates curiosity and creativity among the young users of the building. The rounded shapes and lack of sharp edges, both in in the exterior and the interior, not only enhance the children’s safety, but also invite exploration and encourage proximity and interaction,” explains Sala.
In order to make shape and colour work together for maximum impact, Sala needed a versatile cladding material with high UV colour resistance that would withstand both the test of time and the strong Iberian sun. The optimum solution came in the form of advanced bespoke porcelain from Spanish specialist Natucer. To meet the very specific needs of the curved facade project, Natucer produced 13.5 x 55 cm rectangular glazed porcelain tiles, together with specially curved pieces with a width of 13.5 cm and a bowing radius of 85 cm. To achieve the required curvature, the glazed porcelain tiles were manufactured by a process of single-fire baking at 1195ºC, in carefully monitored cycles. Natucer were asked to produce a series of tiles in five distinct spectral groups – pink, violet, blue, red and green. Using high temperature glazes, Natucer also produced pieces in four varying shades of each hue to allow the architect to create a tone-on-tone ‘patchwork’ effect for each facade.
The tiles were fastened to tracks via aluminium staples set into slots within the tiles. The tracks were then fixed to the facade via a sandwiched panel of aluminium and mineral wool, supported by a metallic substructure.
Each of the five ‘colour coded’ circular blocks within the scheme has its own specific purpose. The violet building is equipped for infants from 0-12 months and also offers breastfeeding facilities. The pink building is for toddlers from 1-2 years, and the green structure is dedicated to 2-3 year olds. The red block accommodates a communal area, a gym, a multipurpose leisure room, a heated pool with saline water, plus facilities for 3-6 year old pre-schoolers. The blue building hosts the catering, staff rooms, administration, plus a learning and innovation centre aligned with the teaching methods of Montessori and Reggio Emilia.
Sustainability was another key consideration in terms of both design and specified materials, with the objective of achieving minimal environmental impact. The choice of ceramics as a natural, durable and easy-maintenance cladding material with high thermal inertia, supports this intention, as well as the proximity of production – based only 60 km away in Castellon, the heart of the Spanish tile industry. The building complex also relies on geothermal and solar energy sources, while the interior features a climate controlled resin floor and ventilation with heat recovery.
Children’s Education & Innovation Centre Valencia – Building Information
Design: FOURSQUARE ARQUITECTOS, Ana Garcia Sala
Location: Parque tecnológico de Paterna, Valencia, Spain
Client: Fundación para la Innovación de la Infancia de la Comunidad Valenciana
Facade: Bespoke porcelain tiles by Natucer SL, Castellon Spain www.natucer.es
Footprint: 3,720 sq.m.
Cost: 4,600,000 €
Completion date: September 2012
Photos: © Javier Fuente, Consuelo Chambo y Luis Millet
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