It’s no surprise that working on a smaller scale is often more challenging, reserving greater difficulties than larger projects, but when the architecture in question is also meant to bring order between buildings created at various historic moments and serves adolescents, the task becomes even more arduous. Giulia de Appolonia, however, has once again found a contemporary response to the issues posed here at the Enrico Fermi secondary school in the province of Brescia, whether compositional, functional, or energetic.
Entrusted with shaping the secondary school in Palazzolo sull’Oglio, in the province of Brescia, the request made to the architect and her studio Officina di Architecture was threefold: the restoration of various parts of the school complex, the design of a new auditorium, and a serious seismic and energetic intervention on the existing gym. Among these, the most salient point of the project is, without a doubt, the addition of a new volume within a crowded block of architectures from various periods. In fact, the separate bodies of the school form a U when seen from above — the layout created in the ‘50s and ‘70s, when the initial structure annexed those nearby.
The act of the architect from Pordenone becomes that of inserting a body with a distinguishable identity, concluding the U-shaped figure and completing the uneven sequence of architectures. With work finally completed on the project, we see an elongated body that extends perpendicular to the street, almost like a tunnel, looking more to the world of infrastructure than schools we’re accustomed to. It’s a similarity that can be explained by de Appolonia's career, starting early on with her technical and constructive studies at the Politecnico di Milano’s architecture department. Beginning in the late ‘90s, the newly graduated creative made her way to Lisbon, a city of great architectural maestros, collaborating with João Luís Carrilho da Graça. As one of the most audacious architects combining architecture with infrastructural themes, da Graça unveils the clear link in his most famous project, the expansion of Palácio de Belém.
Like her maestro, Giulia de Appolonia applies the same idea here and the school in Palazzolo sull’Oglio seems to assume a greater dynamism thanks to its cladding — a second skin of polycarbonate that connects not only the new body, but also the other volumes as a translucent blanket leaving us to guess what lays behind it, and proposing a new interpretation. Inside, just like outside, colors are reduced to four shades associated to just as many materials. Next to the translucent polycarbonate, the architecture studio based in Brescia uses red for the metallic base, black for the doors and stairs, gray in the cement (which still shows the marks of formworks) and in contrast, the white of plaster.