Design defining space

marini bragança
03 Nov 2009

School extension completes to reveal transformed functionality

Portuguese architect José Marini Bragança was commissioned to design an extension for Telheiro School in Leiria, Portugal. The resultant building, just completed, has altered the existing landscape by improving the playground and by creating a public area.

The project has delivered a new kitchen, cafeteria, multifunction room, area of leisure, toilets and a staff room. The different uses resulted in alterations in the structure as well as in the finishing materials used. For example: the ceiling height varies, rising higher in the multifunction room; the walls and ceiling of the leisure area were lined with wooden grids; and the cafeteria ceiling was painted in yellow. The balance created by these different characteristics makes the space cozy, which is reinforced by the zenithal illumination used in the leisure areas and in the kitchen and toilets.

The entrance of the building is marked by a wooden fence, which defines the entrance hall furnished with a bench that runs along the wall. This is the only partition that exists in all the activities area which consists of the cafeteria, the area of leisure and the multifunction room. The cafeteria is identified by its mosaic floor, a yellow painted ceiling and 2 large railed windows which allow the playground to be seen. It is in this area full of tables and chairs near the kitchen that the students have their meals. When the mosaic changes to wooden floor and the walls, we are at the area of leisure, a space with a cozy atmosphere.

The windows were reduced proportionally to the children’s scale – long wide horizontal strips. Above there is also an entry of natural light which equally contributes to a tranquil atmosphere. When we open the doors the room can extend to the patio covered by rubber flooring. The fact that the school is attended by a small group of students allowed that part of the building to be designed as an extension of the playground. On the west side, accompanying the common area, the other facilities were built: kitchen, toilets and staff room. The children’s toilets have natural light entering by the ceiling which, together with the blue tiles that cover the walls. In these areas the windows to the exterior are limited. This does not occur on the opposite side of the building which opens to the playground with large windows in two different scales.

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