Day Nursery and Pediatric Clinic, Milan

   Built for the municipality of Milan, this facility contains a day nursery for 45 to 60 infants from three months to three years old and an independent pediatric clinic.
   The site is a rectangular gap in the urban fabric of one of the most densely populated areas of the city. It is enclosed on three sides by buildings: the fourth side faces Via Induno, a major roadway.
    From the outset the programme appeared to be at odds with the site. Day nurseries are often located in areas with sufficient open space for recreational activities, and in many instances are part of larger educational complexes. This project was neither. It had to be squeezed into a tight urban void. and respond, in its organisation, form and fabric, to the structure of the city. It also had to serve as an important resource for the community.
    A primary organisational principle was the accessibility of the site. Pedestrian paths link the building to the major streets nearby. A passage in the tradition of the Galleria connects Via Paolo Lomazzo with Via Induno and provides access to both the day nursery and the clinic. Other important concerns were to:
- create a sense of place and 'territory' for the children and minimise the overpowering impact of the tall party walls surrounding the site.
-protect the children from the traffic and noise of Via lnduno
- provide a stimulating visual environment for the children
- make a place that the community could relate to.
    The total area of the site is 1,400 square metres: 50 per cent coverage was permitted by zoning and planning regulations. The nursery and clinic have been placed under a 'blanket' type roof that covers most of the site. A number of cut-outs and rooflights allow the sun to enter at desirable points. The clinic is contained within a two-storey rectangular building with a large stepped room for community meetings and discussions. The nursery school is also organised on two levels, with all the major children's activities (play-eat-rest) placed on the ground floor.
    The spatial concept is based on the adaptation of two independent but interrelated envelopes (walls). The first is a metal skin which defines the overall two-storey volume of the building (under the roof) and establishes a strong relationship with the landscaped patios and playgrounds. The second envelope is a more rigorous geometric configuration in the form of a cluster encompassing all support functions on both levels. Built in concrete blocks, it rises as an independent structure within the two-storey space; a building within a building. Ventilation and light are conducted through tubular telescopic shafts bridging the two skins.
    A two-story double-sided deep wall constructed of 30cm x 30cm glass blocks is placed on the property line along Via Induno. Within it. Niches and openings accommodate a variety of street furniture: post-bows, telephones. fountains, plants, posters, benches and entry gates. Kept away from the building, not unlike the fences or walls of urban villas, it defines three landscaped patios which form an area for visual encounter between adults and children. With its double facade, it symbolises the encounter between the city and the school.
   The project was designed in 1978/79 and completed in 1983.

Architects: Empio Malara with Gianni Drago. Panos Koulermos and Giacomo Bancher
Below, from L to R: Cutaway axonometrics of ground floor and first floor