The project provides for the requalification of 9 school gardens of kindergartens and primary schools selected within the 9 decentralization areas of the city of Milan. The design process follows-up the participatory workshops developed by ABCittà and Legambiente with the children of each schools. This experience, together with the specific limitations and characteristics of each area, was a key factors for the development of each project crafted by Atelier delle Verdure and built by contractors or by means of DIY workshops.
The garden of the primary school in Narcisi Street (Lorenteggio district) lacked of the playful aspect – key stimulus to discover the outdoor space and its hidden corners. A natural path-track in calcestre, a stabilized pavement made with small stones, restores the continuity among the different garden’s elements such as: the renovated pergolas, the new vegetable gardens tanks, the hill-game with the slide, the labyrinth made with earth walls and the old abounded fountain in which a spontaneous vegetation is free to grow with a certain degree of control.
Also the garden in Gabbro Street was lacking on the “playfulness” point of view. Here the children seem to have developed the ability to live and recognize their outdoor spaces using the green as an informal game element.
It’s the case of the gate-trees, two cherry trees whose trunks are used as soccer goal posts, or the house-trees: European hackberries providing shadow in the warmest seasons. The design has imagined “open air rooms” able to provide cozier spaces that the children will live and name with more awareness and measure. The hills define the new “rooms”: the big crater for games, the glade of birches with the “table bench” – handwork that twisting becomes table, seat or drawing game – the vegetable garden room, the playground with the soccer goals and the volley court.
The outdoor space of the primary school in Quarto Oggiaro (Graf Street) was a desolate asphalted courtyard with no vegetation, confined in a strip of 1 meter in width. The children requests focused on the enlargement of the green spaces and also on the little observatory from which to look at the sky and finally a space for outdoor performances. The project has defined the removing of some parts of the courtyard’s asphalt to create thematic areas that enter in the asphalt as waves: the vegetable garden corner, the wildflower area with the fruit trees, the observatory-hill, a wood deck for performances, located at the new entrance between the kindergarten and the primary school, and a shockproof rubber area.
The cutting of the existing pavement is the design theme also in the requalification of one part of the garden next to the old little lake in the school in Barabino Street, a space closed since many years behind a fence. The design aimed to give back this space to the school, reshaping it as a playground where the memory of the old lake was preserved, transforming the lake with the grass banks and the lakebed in blue rubber, where the children could play with the new wood silhouettes of the animals.
The wood tanks for the garden in Arcadia Street are an experimentation solicited by the youngest children: i.e. to build for the school and the neighborhood a space planted with species able to attract the butterflies. This school garden aims to become a playground also at the urban scale of the neighborhood. This was the stimulus that lead the design for a multipurpose playground, along the new cycle tracks with a double elliptical shape, where various elements have been placed and named on specific signs: a labyrinth with wood poles, a playground with shockproof rubber, a round shape area where to play a reinterpretation of the paintball.
The element of the game is also the main design theme in the kindergarten in Branca Street where, since the first workshops with the children, what surfaced was the desire for a whole element for playing: a train that becomes a stage/scene for a journey through landscapes rushing along the blind wall behind them.
The train consists in three-fixed wood wagons structure in pine and panels in marine plywood furnished with seats and windows. On the opposite side of the windows, the blackboard and a plexiglass panel are the supporting elements on which the children could draw and imagine the landscape of their journeys.
The long linear garden of the primary and kindergarten schools in Clericetti Street lack from the botanic point of view – apart from the big oaks and some shrubs – and from the game point of view. The main driving idea of the design is the creation of a connection between a system of spaces dedicated to play and “stay”, thorough a path of stepping stones made with some recovered blocks of the pavement of the Baracca Square.
This enabled to link the vegetable garden, the new fruit trees and the shady glade under the oaks, renovated by using the calcestre stabilized pavement mixed with a colored inert. The labyrinth, a play element developed from the workshops, is made with 9 wood gates with bracing steel tubes, supports for the creeper plants. Finally, the connection between the two parts is facilitated by a sound-game with funnels-speakers placed on the two sides of the fence.
The association “Amici del parco Trotter” is another partner with whom we have imagined the project for the butterfly park in the Trotter garden area. The design, which aims to restore the centrality of the area, is proposed as an intervention between Land Art and bioengineering.
A series of wooden items will be the mark elements of this area with the hope that they would contaminate other sectors: new signposting, made with plywood portals for the butterfly park, the vegetable garden and the vineyard, a sensory linear path defined by planting beds and poles that lead the visitors towards the butterfly park, a playground area and a restorative area with a big community table, benches and an observatory-hill.
9 school gardens for 9 districts in Milan
Location: Milan, Italy
Funds for the Second Plan dedicated to Childhood and Adolescence (as of the Italian Law nr. 285)
Designer | Atelier delle Verdure (arch. M. Sessa – designer G. Uva – arch. B. Boschiroli)
Collaborator | B. Pagella
Client | ABCittà, Legambiente Lombardia
Photography | Atelier delle Verdure
Text | Atelier delle Verdure