andrés jaque designs ‘colegio reggio’ as a complex ‘multiverse’

“colegio reggio”: a collection of diversity for self-learning

architect Andrés Jaque from the Office for Political Innovation challenged the paradigms of educational spaces with “Colegio Reggio”, a new private one school in Madrid conceived as a collection of different “worlds” that instill a desire in children to explore and explore. ‘Avoiding homogenization and uniform standards, the school’s architecture aims to become a multiverse in which the multi-layered complexity of the environment can be read and experienced. It functions as a conglomeration of diverse climates, ecosystems, architectural traditions, and regulations,’ writes the architect.

Its vertical progression begins with a ground floor connected to the site where classrooms for younger students are placed. Stacked on top are intermediate grades that coexist with reclaimed water and floor tanks that nurture an interior garden that reaches the top levels beneath a greenhouse structure. Around this inner garden, the classrooms for older students are arranged like a small village. According to Jaque, this distribution of uses implies a continuous process of maturation, which is reflected in the increasing ability of students to explore the school ecosystem alone and with their peers.


all images © José Hevia

The second floor, formalized as a large cavity that opens to the surrounding ecosystems through arches, functions as the central social space in the “Colegio Reggio”. Here the architecture encourages teachers and students to participate in school governance and to interact with the surrounding landscapes and territories. This 464.5 m² central area is over eight meters high and presents itself as a cosmopolitan agora: a semi-enclosed space permeated by the air tempered by the holm oaks from the neighboring countryside. Here, everyday activities such as sports coexist with discussions of how the school is run as a community and how one relates to the neighboring streams and fields.

In addition, a network of ecologists and soil scientists have designed small gardens within this space to house and nurture communities of insects, butterflies, birds and bats. “Ultimately, this floor functions as a more-than-human summit chamber, allowing students and teachers to sense and attune to the ecosystems to which they belong,” notes Andrés Jaque (see more here).

Andrés Jaque designs a private school in Madrid as a stacked and complex
‘Colegio Reggio’ is a private school in Madrid

Mechanism disclosure while reducing footprint and consumption

As an alternative to the usual effort to hide mechanical systems, all services remain visible here, making the currents that keep the building active an opportunity for students to question how their bodies and social interactions move from water to energy and depend on air exchange and circulations. In fact, the building uncompromisingly allows pipes, ducts, wires and gratings to become part of its visual and physical ecosystem.

On the other hand, in the southern European context, where high-tech sustainable solutions are only available for high-budget, corporate or government-sponsored buildings, Colegio Reggio is developing a low-budget strategy to reduce its ecological footprint based on several design principles. The first is opting for verticality to reduce land use. Rather than opting for horizontal expansion — as is the case with 90% of school designs — the private school adopts a compact, vertical form, a decision that minimizes its footprint, optimizes its overall need for foundations, and radically reduces its rate of facades.

The second principle focuses on Radically reduce construction: no cladding, no false ceilings, no raised technical floors, no wall cladding and no ventilated facades are used. In addition, simply by replacing a large part of the structure with simpler strategies or thermal insulation and mechanical system distribution, the total amount of material in the facades, roofs and interior walls was reduced by 48%. ‘The result presents a bare building in which the raw visibility of its operational components defines its aesthetic.” adds the architect.

Andrés Jaque designs a private school in Madrid as a stacked and complex
a complex ecosystem that progresses vertically

The third intervention introduces Cork packaging as thermal insulation and support for more than human life. Specifically, the structural team covered 80% of the school envelope with 14.2cm thick cork with an estimated density of 9,700 kg/m3. This natural solution, developed by the Office of Policy Innovation, is built into vertical and inclined parts of the external volume to offer thermal insulation of R-23.52, twice that required by Madrid regulations, reducing energy consumption in heating the interior of the school is reduced 50%. In addition, the cork’s irregular surfaces allow for the accumulation of organic matter, eventually transforming the enveloped building into a habitat for microbiological fungi, plants and animals.

Finally, according to the second principle, the architect approached the project with a “more thinking, less material‘ Way of thinking. Led by researcher and structural engineer Iago González Quelle, the team shaped, analyzed and dimensioned the structure to reduce the thickness of the loading walls by more than 150mm, representing a 33% reduction in energy embedded in the building structure.

Andrés Jaque designs a private school in Madrid as a stacked and complex
Cork wrapping of the multi-layer facades for thermal insulation and support of more than human life

Andrés Jaque designs a private school in Madrid as a stacked and complex
inspire a desire to explore, question and educate yourself

Andrés Jaque designs a private school in Madrid as a stacked and complex
second floor formalized with large arches opening onto the surrounding ecosystems

Andrés Jaque designs a private school in Madrid as a stacked and complex
a color combination that alludes to the complexity of the multiverse

Andrés Jaque designs a private school in Madrid as a stacked and complex
The design moves away from traditional educational spaces

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