Register: DEC/20/2018, Submit: JAN/02/2019, Eligibility: Students, graduated, freelance architects, designers, artists; individually, teams (any number of members, at least one member between 18 and 35 years old, members can to be from different countries and universities), Fee: 50 EUR (SEP/24 – OCT/28/2018), 75 EUR (OCT/29 – NOV/25/2018), 100 EUR (NOV/26 – DEC/20/2018); +22% VAT, Awards: 1st Prize 10,000 EUR, 2nd Prize 4,000 EUR, 3rd Prize 2,000 EUR, 4 Gold Mentions 1,000 EUR each, 10 Honorable Mentions, 30 Finalists
“All grown-ups were once children, although few of them remember it.” (Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince) Barrie’s Peter Pan and Saint-Exupéry’s Little Prince are two examples of the countless attempts to catch the shy handful of years that childhood comprises. Childhood is a time when reality is complementary to imagination. It is a crucial time that defines the deepest rock on which the corals of adulthood sediment. Childhood is a fascinating challenge for designers. Adults perceive architecture according to a functional logic: every space has its own use; every element has its own purpose. However, this is not how children think.
For them, space is exploration, an ongoing and limitless opportunity, a background for their extraordinary adventures. Every space can be something else; every place can be somewhere else.
Consequently, when a place cannot be made functional for adults anymore, it can still be suitable for children. As naturally as a battered empty box can become a house or a castle, an industrial archeology – even more so can become the perfect score to sol-fa the notes of childhood.
The former pottery of Laveno Mombello (Italy) is a mastodon that fell asleep on the banks of Lake Maggiore. It is a 27,000 m2 titan that the logics of adults did not manage to wake up from its deep torpidity. For this reason, the insurance colossus Unipol, which owns the building, entrusted to YAC the opening of such a majestic architectural complex to childhood. By doing so, it will transform one ofthe most impressive industrial architectures of Europe into the largest kindergarten in the world.
Can fairies live in the majestic remains of an industrial architecture?
Unipol thinks so. Through the project dedicated to the estate redevelopment of Unipol’s buildings “Urban Up”, it invites all designers to transform the former pottery of Laveno Mombello into the largest and most innovative campus for childhood in the world. At the Italian borders, just a step away from Switzerland, France and Germany, future generations will find their “Neverland” in the abandoned architectures of a former industrial plant. It will be renovated and innovated in order to become forge and shelter of the society of tomorrow.
Designing for children means being aware that the design action will have to be completed by the personal and unique adventure that every child will decide to create. The spaces semantic and functional poleswill only be the inspirational elements for the invisible world that lives in the imagination of every child. Every space of the facility, including its vertical and horizontal connections, will have to take this into account. A difference in height is the perfect opportunity to create a slide. A covering can become an unparalleled playing field. A chasm can be a perfect place for a swimming pool or a net. All the elements as lights, materials and colors will have to guarantee a sensorial and intellectual stimulation at different levels able to interact with the different moments preluding adulthood. They will have to guarantee constantly new and diversified architectural experiences. Thanks to this redevelopment, the factories of Laveno Mombello will become a model of architecture with an educational purpose. Through their majestic dimensions, they will create a real summary of design for childhood able to meet both the first, tender cognitive moments and the more complex facets of adolescence. The school, the library, the camping area, the sport and leisure facilities not only will have to create a real city of the child but also an ideal context for adults. It will be a service center, which will be useful both for tourists and, above all, the area. Hereby follows a list of different functional possibilities. It is important to underline that the composition, integration and reshuffling of these scenarios, the focus on one of them rather than the others shall be under total discretion of designers.
By virtue of the proximity to the lake, the center will have to ensure the opportunity to carry out camping activities and holidays for children. It will have to include at least 200 beds and related functional facilities. Therefore, the facility will have to be a center of excellence. It will have to be a real temple of childhood able to attract groups of young people from all over the world. In such place, they will have the opportunity to spend their summer or spring holidays being sure of finding an innovative architectural experience according to the engaging pattern that combines game, nature and manual activities.
The game will have to be the main protagonist of the new facility. The main challenge of the competition is providing spaces where children can find the perfect background for their adventures. Indoor or outdoor spaces, covered or uncovered gardens playing with shades, views, routes and connections, will shape and redefine the pottery as if it was a huge empty box. This will be the starting point for a wider redevelopment work of the architectural space. It will be able to show how architecture with a ludic purpose can create a high-quality and formally efficient space. Such spaces will be created to meet the needs of all ages (0-16). They will have to be the main attraction of the facility. They will be the functional element both for the camping activity and the additional didactic/recreational functions the facility fulfills.
a. Sport Facilities
They are the spaces to carry out structured ludic activities according to the components that characterize the sporting discipline. Football fields, basketball and tennis courts, swimming pools, climbing facilities and gyms where to practice several sports (fencing and judo among others) will make this place an appealing attractor for children from all over the world and, above all, a service center for the whole area.
b. Classrooms and Labs
In line with the educational needs that characterize childhood, the facility will have to include educational and laboratory activities. By doing so, it will guarantee spaces where to nurture creativity and knowledge. Through a suitable number of classrooms, the facility will also fulfill the function of primary and secondary school for Laveno Mombello and the surrounding area. It will benefit from an extraordinary system of offers and services able to create a unique school.
c. Research Center
Due to the dimensions of the facility and the constant presence of children, the facility will be a favored observatory for all the operators working in the childhood industry. Designers will have the opportunity to create offices and laboratories where companies and associations dealing with childhood can find their natural workplace. This will be a possible suggestion to define a real cluster of childhood.
d. Pet Center
The facility will have to be a summary of the game in all its forms. Consistently with such purpose and the benefits of the interaction with animals, which childhood pedagogy has proven, the facility will have to include spaces where to play and interact with these special childhood friends.