Detailed Program of the Conference

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Overall view of the program
Parallel sessions - H.7.3 Reinventing school between pedagogy, architecture and design: a dynamic laboratory
Friday, 04/June/2021:
5:15pm - 7:30pm

Session Chair: Beate Christine Weyland
Session Chair: Kuno Prey
Session Chair: Massimo Faiferri
Location: Room 9

Session Panels:
H.7. Reinventing school between pedagogy, architecture and design: A dynamic laboratory

External Resource:


Federica Brun, Giovanni Francescon, Francesco Ochner, Irina Tataru, Samuel Valentin, Beate Weyland

Libera Università di Bolzano, Italy

Green SET (Shared Experiences Toghether 4 Sustenaible Enviroments Towards Nature) is the acronym for a project launched at the Faculty of Education of the Free University of Bozen/Bolzano in 2017, when the new dean, Paul Videsott, took office. The data showed that students were cogently dissatisfied with the building, making it urgently necessary to consider measures to make the university's communal areas more liveable. With the collaboration on the project of Beate Weyland, who had already gained experience in shared design processes for school buildings (Attia et al. 2018, Weyland 2015, 2020), a series of steps were taken to involve both the students and professors’ community in defining trajectories of intervention.

With this contribution, we intend to present the evolution of the project from 2018 to 2021 and to focus on the current constitution of a group of students with a formal mandate to study how to actively involve the university community in the ongoing development of Green SET.

The "SET 4 Unibz" group, currently is composed of four students - who collaborate with the university - and one thesis student, is coordinated by Professor Weyland. The aim is to make the university more welcoming, enhancing its spaces by adding elements that generate and transmit wellbeing and comfort. Another goal is to create a project that will be recognisable, developing a social campaign and initiatives to involve students.

This project intends to develop a model that will inspire us to enhance the educational spaces of university students, who are studying and training to become teachers. The faculty represents our living laboratory for experimentation.

This format rises up from the Alto Adige territory, but it could also become an example for other institutions.


Monica Guerra

Università di Milano-Bicocca, Italy

Participatory actions in public spaces are a mode of practice at the intersection of architecture and education that takes shape outside of traditional educational and academic settings, yet is intentionally educational in a variety of possible ways. This construct comprehends actions, mostly temporary in nature, which take place in open and accessible places in cities and whose aim is to foster different ways of contemplating shared spaces, a sense of belonging to places, and relationships among locals or passers-by (Guerra, Ottolini, 2019; Guerra, Ottolini, Ferrari, 2019; Ottolini, Guerra, 2017). They are initiated by a call to action on the part of the organisers, usually seek to draw attention to sensitive social or environmental issues that impact on the quality of life of individuals or groups, and may be recreational or political.

Since the onset of the COVID-19 epidemic, education centres and schools have organized a variety of such actions, responding to the invitation to “take back the streets” – which is emblematic of the participatory action perspective – by attempting to reduce the distance separating children and their families that has been generated by the public health response. More specifically, during periods of lockdown when early childhood education centres and schools were closed, some educators and teachers designed and implemented actions which, while respecting physical distancing requirements, were intended to maintain and strengthen relationships by making them visible and to literally bring fragments of the places of education into nearby public spaces.

In this paper, I outline the typical characteristics of participatory actions in public spaces, in light of existing research, and based on some of these initiatives taken by education centres and schools during periods of forced closure. I discuss the meaning and potential of such actions in relation to two outcomes: on the one hand, the temporary transformation of public spaces into educational spaces and, on the other, the engagement of children and families, and members of the wider community, in participatory events that make children more visible outside of the spaces explicitly dedicated to them (Bertolino, Guerra, 2020; Guerra, 2020a, 2020b).


Bertolino, F., Guerra, M. (2020) (a cura di). Contesti intelligenti. Spazi, ambienti luoghi possibili dell'educare. p. 12-22, Edizioni Junior-Bambini.

Guerra, M. (2020a). Nel mondo. Pagine per un’educazione aperta e all’aperto. Milano: FrancoAngeli.

Guerra, M. (2020b). Una scuola autentica in un mondo virtuale. METIS, vol. 10, p. 197-209.

Guerra, M., Ottolini., L (2019). In strada. Azioni partecipate in spazi pubblici. Mantova: Corraini.

Guerra, M., Ottolini, L., Ferrari, L. (2019). Transforming representations of public places through collective actions between pedagogy and architecture. In ICERI 2019 Proceedings. pp.721-726.

Ottolini, L., Guerra, M. (2017). Generating participation: collective actions between architecture and pedagogy. In: ICERI2017 Proceedings. pp. 8832-8839, IATED.


Massimo Ferrari, Claudia Tinazzi, Annalucia D'Erchia

Politecnico di Milano, Italy

The contemporaneity that lies before us - looking at the theme of the school - increasingly urges us to recognise the need for a critical break with what has preceded us in the time that has just passed, in order to consolidate in a new unity the two terms of a single story, architecture and pedagogy, which for over thirty years have travelled along different roads without the capacity for comparison or encounter, for a concrete idea of a school suited to its time. Certainly the near past - closer to the field verification of the suitability of space for its possible educational use - clearly shows us the consequent distances that lead to the need to act in opposition, instances well expressed by contrasting expressions such as "The classroom is broken". And yet, this need for revolution, this concrete need to invent "anew" an idea of a school suited to our times in the close dialogue between architecture and pedagogy has made us forget, at times, that attitude well expressed by Paul Klee's Angelus Novus.

But if Pedagogy has more easily found the comparison with the past more familiar, even a critical one, finding within some principles of the major pedagogical thoughts of the twentieth century a possibility of restarting, Architecture has been divided - contended with no possibility of a solution - between the desire to protect almost "uncritically" the compositional value of some historical examples capable of responding to its own time by placing them at the same time in an ideal atlas of twentieth-century architecture and on the other hand an instinctive tabula rasa in the young illusion of an easy redefinition without constraints of a new typological idea of the School building.

This impasse has removed, in this way, the possibility of serious work on the discipline of architectural composition and design for a discerning look at history capable of restoring experiences that even today might seem revolutionary.

The time of the school, the chronological juncture in which it is the protagonist of the necessary transformations with all the reflections and hypotheses that follow, in a certain sense crosses much of the twentieth century, so much so that often, if someone try to deceive contemporary critics by re-proposing some projects for new schools from the mid-twentieth century or texts from the last century - falsifying their temporal source – it would risk attributing with shameless confidence to the most fruitful research on the adequacy of learning spaces of our time, reasonings by Arrigo Arrighetti (1956), by Ciro Cicconcelli (1952) or precisely by E. N. Rogers (1947).

Thinking about the school of the future is therefore not a slogan but the re-proposition in the present of those central examples, those peaks of harmony between disciplines that punctuate the last century. It means - again - being sure of the critical capacity of comparison, believing in a generation of architects who are well aware and capable of facing and advancing the quality of Italian architecture.


Franca Zuccoli1, Maria Fianchini2, Antonella Bellomo3

1Università Milano Bicocca, Italy; 2DAStU - Politecnico di Milano; 3Istituto Comprensivo A. B. Sabin, Segrate

This paper tells the story of an initiative, underway for some years now, that is based on collaboration between architects, education specialists, teachers, and students. It originated in 2015 from a basic research project funded by DAStU, the architecture department at the Politecnico di Milano, on the theme of existing school buildings, liveability, and the wellbeing of students and teachers. The research aim was to build up a knowledge base on the condition of school buildings, and the relative problems and expectations, to be shared with all those with a role in the sector: architects, teachers, policymakers, etc. The first steps in the research process included a comprehensive review of the salient literature, encounters between architects and education specialists, and interviews with the head teachers of lower secondary schools, a segment that is often overlooked in innovation projects.

Field work was then conducted involving: careful observation of school spaces by a mixed group of architects and education specialists, with the help of floor plans; an on-site visit during which the research team first engaged in free exploration before being given a guided tour by school staff; further in-depth observation of the use of the spaces; focus group discussions with students and teachers to elicit their opinions and suggestions for change; administration of a questionnaire that was adapted from a European project to fit the present research aims and context.

The results of the different research phases were analysed, compared, and integrated, and ultimately disseminated, mainly via open access outlets. The study gave rise to further developments. On the one hand, it led to the setting up of the transdisciplinary work group Ambiente Scuola [School Environment], which continues to promote cooperation across a growing network of schools, local authorities, associations, etc. On the other hand, the field work fostered enhanced awareness, on the part of the participating schools, on the topic of school spaces, leading in some cases to continued reflection on the innovation goals to pursued and/or the independent implementation of improvements. Thus, teachers and students became direct actors in the revisiting of spaces and their uses, and the enhancing of the physical school setting with help - proactively offered in some cases - from parents.

An example is the Sabin school in Segrate, where renewed interest in school spaces inspired both an educational project that qualified for national funding and engaged the students themselves in redecorating the school, and the design and implementation of maintenance and furnishing projects by the students’ families.


Simona Galateo

Fondazione Architettura Alto Adige, Italy

Today, South Tyrol is a reference point for contemporary Italian architecture. Over the decades, local policies have invested great resources in promoting, through quality architecture, the potential and heritage of a thriving region, but with a complex geographical and environmental configuration.

A highlight is undoubtedly the school architecture sector, recognized nationally and internationally, which shows how South Tyrol is a laboratory of open-air experimentation of how pedagogy can be an integrated tool in architecture. As the result of large ten-year public investments and particular attention in considering it one of the cornerstones for the development and consolidation of territorial identity, South Tyrolean school architecture has developed processes, methodologies, best practices, regulations, and truly innovative solutions, such as to make it one of the most advanced sectors in the region. In fact, the Directives adopted in February 2009 define new parameters on teaching and the involvement of schools in the construction procedures of school buildings of different grades and types, thanks to the formal inclusion in the legal document of the indication that the project is based on an "organizational concept with a pedagogical orientation and the predictable development of the school", almost a unique case in Europe.

Over the last few years, the South Tyrolean Architecture Foundation, through its magazine Turris Babel, has investigated and deepened the topic of school architecture by dedicating several issues to the relationship between pedagogy and architecture, publishing unpublished texts, researches, and the results of conferences, and the many quality projects carried out in the South Tyrolean area. To document this process of the formal and conceptual evolution of school buildings in South Tyrol – based on the intuition of the director of Turris Babel, arch. Alberto Winterle –, an atlas has been created with a selection of 28 built schools considered exemplary witnesses of the change.

First of all, to set up the atlas some selection parameters have been determined to make the architectures and data collected comparable and interpretable. The reference time frame is from 2010 to 2020. All schools were built as the result of a public competition or a direct assignment.

Later, through confrontation and interviews with two architecture experts, arch. Sandy Attia, Modus Architects, and pedagogy, Prof. Beate Weyland, for each building 4 aspects were highlighted: location and client, type of intervention (new construction, extension, renovation), shared design, organizational concept with a pedagogical orientation.
The atlas clearly shows a local disposition to include pedagogical processes in the construction processes of school buildings, even in cases where the official participatory program and the "pedagogically oriented organizational concept" have not been formally activated. That is an important result for the local architecture, which can be referred to as a model for other territories.

Selected bibliography

Simona Galateo, edited by, Atlas Scuole Alto Adige. 2010-2020, in Turris Babel #119, 2020
Pedagogie da costruire, Turris Babel #97, 2015
Costruire pedagogie, Turris Babel #93, 2013
Attia S., Weyland B., Bellenzier P., Prey K., Progettare scuole insieme, tra pedagogia, architettura e design, Guerini, Milano 2018


Kuno Prey

libera università di bolzano, Italy

My path as a product designer has known different phases. But always a careful attention to the product has led me to take into account the people who would be confronted with my projects, my products with also a particular attention to the contexts in which they are inserted.

Not only as the founding dean of the Faculty of Design and Art at the Free University of Bolzano, I worked on the design of spaces and furnishings so as to achieve optimal functionality of the environments for what I knew was necessary to offer students and lecturers. But I also worked on a series of projects in which the meeting with children and young people was aimed at stimulating their interest, curiosity and the discovery of the product-object as a mirror of a precise way of thinking.

In this contribution I will review some design experiences that have been particularly focused on the educational relationship with children: from the "hittl" house to "gestaltung zum anfassen" to the "stampatelle" and "croquei moi" workshops, I will offer an interpretation of product design as an educational project.


Giuseppina Cannella, Samuele Borri

Indire, Italy

The research activities that Indire has carried out since 2012 in the field of rethinking school spaces has a tradition that has its roots in the pedagogy of Montessori, Malaguzzi up to all those teachers who look for meaningful and effective school learning spaces.

The research outreach has had unexpected effects through the participation of researchers in the drafting of calls for tenders for the design of new school buildings, participation in design competitions, the development of guidelines also with European partners, or the stipulation of memoranda of understanding with local authorities or associations of stakeholders within the field.

The national (Weyland, 2015) and European (Bojer, 2018 Barry, 2018) experiences in participatory processes, evidences the adequacy of these approach to overcome barriers and use the new spaces in effective way; to develop an educational vision shared with the community and to activate a sense of belonging to the space by students and teachers of a school community (Imms, 2016; Barrett, 2015).

The importance of translating pedagogical visions and orientations into educational principles that can then be reflected in the architectural forms and languages ​​of an educational space emerged in the evaluation experiences for the construction of new school buildings as experts.

The contribution outlines how important it is to proceed through a research design approach that does not prefer only the technical dimension, identifying professionals based on an economic offer, or entrusting a single design phase to a generic technician or based on a defined preliminary by a person lacking adequate skills. But provide for the participation of teams of professionals able to respond to the needs of the users. This necessity emerges from the analysis of some calls that use the 2013 guidelines as a tool of inspiration for the design of schools. The novelty of these guidelines concerns the constructive approach of a performance type, capable of offering a meta-project proposal in which spaces are characterized according to their symbolic and functional value.

At the same time the inspirational value of the guidelines, allow the necessity to identify some criteria to evaluate the overall project. What criteria should be used for reading the pedagogical aspects of an innovative school building project that takes into account the national rules but also the pedagogical aspects? How to negotiate the design of an innovative school that focuses on the learning process?

These questions open up some areas of reflection that will be addressed through the presentation of some case studies of school project that have been evaluated by Indire researchers as pedagogists in commission. The goal is to highlight the importance of dialogue between experts from different fields such as those belonging to the world of pedagogy and architecture; to begin to identify a series of common and shared criteria to be used for the evaluation of projects that architects can also take into account and finally hypothesize the participation of a mediator or an expert profile in the project evaluation commissions or competitions for the assignment of construction projects.