2016

MCHAP

Pies Descalzos School

Giancarlo Mazzanti - El Equipo Mazzanti

Cartagena de Indias, Colombia

February 2014

PRIMARY AUTHOR

Giancarlo Mazzanti / El Equipo Mazzanti

CONTRIBUTING AUTHOR

Juan Manuel Gil (Project director) Rocio Lamprea (Technical architect) Nestor Gualteros (Architect) Liv Johana Zea (Architect) Diego Castro (Architect) Joana Peixoto (Architect) Maria Sol Echeverri (Architect) Stephany Zapata, Juliana Alzate, Andres Correa, Jessica Jaramillo, Samir Abu-Shibab, Santiago Rincon, Fabio Caicedo, Christelle Tsikras, Manuel Gutierrez, (Architects)

AUTHOR

Pies Descalzos Foundation

PHOTOGRAPHER

Sergio Gomez Fundación Pies Descalzos

OBJECTIVE

This School in Cartagena is a project donated to the Lomas del Peyé community by Pies Descalzos foundation run by Colombian singer Shakira. The project intended to be a landmark; a key reference in the challenging context of this degraded urban area. The design relies in the idea of architecture as something that goes beyond form; the aim is to create gathering places of people engines driving to a change. The relationship with the landscape in this project has been a critical factor: architecture goes beyond mimesis and creates contrasts with the urban image, in this case in order to underline the distinguishing feature of the public building as a landmark tracing a new figurative route and indirectly attempting to slow down uncontrolled urban sprawl. The land on which the school stands is the property of a social fund called Convivienda (Fondo de vivienda de interés social y reforma urbana del distrito de Cartagena), and the project was built with the intention of not only providing a public building for education but also becoming part of the city’s heritage. This is why the entrance, accessed from a level higher than the street, opens onto a large terrace with a view of Lomas del Peyé, offering a viewpoint for students and passers-by. And this is why the library, which will be open not only to the school but to the entire community, has its own entrance so that it can stay open after the day's lessons are over.

CONTEXT

This School in Cartagena is a project donated to the Lomas del Peyé community by Pies Descalzos foundation run by Colombian singer Shakira. The project intended to be a landmark; a key reference in the challenging context of this degraded urban area. The design relies in the idea of architecture as something that goes beyond form; the aim is to create gathering places of people engines driving to a change. The relationship with the landscape in this project has been a critical factor: architecture goes beyond mimesis and creates contrasts with the urban image, in this case in order to underline the distinguishing feature of the public building as a landmark tracing a new figurative route and indirectly attempting to slow down uncontrolled urban sprawl. The land on which the school stands is the property of a social fund called Convivienda (Fondo de vivienda de interés social y reforma urbana del distrito de Cartagena), and the project was built with the intention of not only providing a public building for education but also becoming part of the city’s heritage. This is why the entrance, accessed from a level higher than the street, opens onto a large terrace with a view of Lomas del Peyé, offering a viewpoint for students and passers-by. And this is why the library, which will be open not only to the school but to the entire community, has its own entrance so that it can stay open after the day's lessons are over.

PERFORMANCE

The building is based on a sequence of three intersected hexagons that connect indoors with the outdoors, functional places with public passageways, in which the architecture invites people to come in, or just to look and get involved. Each hexagon defines a two level perimeter with a central patio. The hexagon contours define a perimeter circulation and contain the school’s program. The covered patios have a variety of trees and plant species that create a micro-weather. The building adapts to the geographic conditions by creating a level sequence that permits the full use of the area. The preschool area is independent from the rest of the building and functions in one level. The library also functions on the first floor as it needs a direct and public access from the street. The middle and high school areas are located in the two bigger hexagons. A central ramp and stairs connect the levels vertically. The elements that come out from the building are special classrooms (science labs) that have big windows to provide a visual connection to the city. Additionally, the school has a multifunctional hall, with sport services opened to an access plaza. The project revolves around the dichotomy between the concrete and the impalpable, between full and empty spaces: from far away, the structure of the domes with their wooden grid appears massive and highly visible, but from close up it is once again impalpable, lightweight, sometimes even invisible so that students can see the sky beyond the building.