Scuola Futuro Lavoro: when environment becomes psychology
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Milan-based firm Maurizio Lai Architects uses the materials and layout of a space to relieve stress and help people with Asperger’s syndrome to learn.
A welcoming, well-designed environment aids the learning process. This is especially true in the case of people with Asperger’s syndrome, a mild form of autism characterized by communication difficulties and problems with social relations. In Milan, the Scuola Futuro Lavoro, designed by Maurizio Lai Architects with the “Un futuro per l’Asperger” foundation, aims to support these individuals’ learning and socialization through professional training. The school is spread over 450 m² on the first floor of a building in Viale Cassala. It consists of five classrooms, a workshop room, interview rooms and a multifunctional hall. The space has a well-structured layout with perspectives that are dynamic, but not chaotic. “The project,” explains Maurizio Lai, “was developed together with the Istituto Sacra Famiglia’s scientific partners and the foundation’s representative Professor Lucio Moderato. Since 2017 there have been lengthy discussions to understand the learning and spatial perception needs of people affected by this disorder. We have therefore developed special solutions to ensure a linear layout, coplanar surfaces and uniform, repetitive classrooms.”
The classrooms are designed to eliminate any source of distraction, keeping the interior surfaces as minimalist as possible and offering an excellent level of thermal and acoustic comfort. “The main sources of distraction for these students,” Lai continues, “are related to light and sound. We therefore took measures to soundproof the classrooms, covering walls and ceilings with high-performance soundproofing panels. The impact of natural light was then assessed and automated curtains with different levels of permeability were installed. Finally, dimmable ceiling light sources were chosen for indirect and diffuse light, along with spotlights on counters and worktops.” A circular “quiet room” with a 250 cm diameter is designed to provide isolation from outside, allowing the students to relax and refocus.
The finishes combine the warmth of wood with the simplicity of Mystone Ceppo di Gré stoneware (with the Grey finish in the 75x150 cm size), used on both the floor and on the vertical surfaces of the corridor. “Stoneware offers an excellent combination of aesthetic and technological performance, as well as being easy to maintain. The finish recalls a material cherished by the city of Milan, the first city to host the headquarters of Scuola Futuro Lavoro. And the available large size made the surfaces incredibly uniform.”
Ph Andrea Martiradonna