School courtyards are often times used for school-hour recreation space, extra-curricular activities, and gathering spaces where parents leave their children in the morning and pick them up at night. the result is an overlap of activity that requires quite different spatial organizations, and often times the demand of the program for one function is encroached upon by another. architect guzman de yarza blache of local practice J1 arquitectos was given the prompt to increase the usable area of the 33 meter by 35 meter courtyard of the lasalle franciscanas school in zaragoza to accommodate the influx of parents without disturbing the daily sports and leisure activities. the solution is brilliantly simple: elevate the multi-use sports court off of the ground, creating a usable shelf maintaining a permeability for the flow of circulation. as an educational institution is rather busy for 9 to 10 months of the year, the entire structure had to be built during the summer months, which meant that the structure had to be erected in a relatively short amount of time with minimally invasive site work. a prefabricated concrete base became the most logical choice: symmetrically-placed pillars hold up two longitudinal wide flange beams that support the court itself. a double skin metal cage system that curves inwards at the top keeps kids and equipment in the floating arena during playtime. two removed trees originally on site are replaced by 300 different species of ivy growing out of 70-meter long corten steel planter around the perimeter of the metal envelope, eventually covering the court in vegetation within a few years. ‘the whale’ – dubbed by the students – contains a ramp on either side of the structure connecting it to the courtyard and school building. beneath the construct, strips of bright colors are painted on the ground to mark the infantile play area and create a jovial ambiance for visitors and students as they enter the premises, with a rounded seating area hosts a variety of plants for people to sit and wait for their children to come out.
via Macanno 8
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