Santa Rosa Children’s School
Located in a poor neighborhood in the outskirts of Porto Alegre, this school externalizes its public character and, at the same time, mimics an idealized domesticity. The goal is not to represent a house nor blend it with its surroundings, but to evoke the idea of home, the place where the family lives: school and home are seen as mutually corresponding. The contrast between the school and the harshness of its surroundings makes it a welcoming and transformative place. Facing the challenges presented by the adverse site condition, the aim of the project is to reassure internally the school’s individuality without dissociating it from the external context, which it approaches respectfully but does not reproduce. The result is an architecture that forms and organizes a public space that can be recognized as a fragment of the city. The school discreetly transforms its surroundings, turning what looked like a residual urban space into a recognizable place, a symbolic reference and landmark for the neighborhood.
The main access to the school is located in a recess created on the acute angle formed by the corner of two streets, creating a small “monumentalized” square with the inclusion of a stylized pediment on the façade, similar to the traditional public building we usually see in countryside towns, where many of the local dwellers come from. The lateral façades’ continuity highlights the presence of open spaces (a square on the corner, a square next to the triangular site base), alternating different forms of occupying the public space. These elevations are clearly distinct. On one side there is a continuous wall, and its brick surface has windows at different heights, allowing children and adults to have different levels of contact between the building’s external and internal areas. On the other side, the wall is interrupted so it can give place to a roof that overhangs the street, resembling the neighboring houses, and vertical line of the chimney delimits the school’s community meeting room.
The composition was skillfully made so that the relatively small building can offer multiple interpretations that unfold the ways the school building relates to the neighborhood