—Located in Zaragoza, Spain and designed by J-Uno Architects, the “Whale” (as the students have lovingly called it due to it’s rather generous proportions) was created to increase space for structured and recreational play to occur on.
Apparently, the vast number of kids playing before the Whale was built obstructed the entrance to the school. Due to the school schedule, the structure could only be built during the summer months. The architects decided to use prefabricated steel materials that could actually be built in a few days.
The new gym surface was raised 13m, creating an elevated space and designing the space below for younger students to play on. The raised metal bubble structure meant that two existing trees had to be removed, so ivy was planted within a corten steel planting box which surrounds the structure and will eventually grow on the bubble, encapsulating the court.
Play time is such an enormous part of the learning experience at school. It’s during this play time that dealing with relationships and self-awareness comes to the forefront for kids. They begin to develop their own mediation skills and become aware of how to navigate different situations on their own. Designing a refreshing environment where that knowledge of self can foster also aids in the formation of their own creativity. Of course, the memories of play time in that space will live on forever and can’t be discounted either.
It takes vision to use a product for a completely different purpose than what it was originally designed for. Australian architects Techne did just that with the Prahan Hotel, utilizing massive concrete pipes for the new facade and interior bar.