Students arriving at and departing from this school in Zaragoza, Spain, often obstructed sports games in the playground, so architect Guzmán de Yarza Blache decided to lift one of the sports courts up out of the way (+ movie).
Raised up by one storey, the new elevated sports court sits at the entrance to Lasalle Franciscanas School. It is held in place by concrete pilotis, creating a sheltered entranceway underneath that can also be used as a general playground.
Yarza Blache, a director at J1 Arquitectos, was asked to complete installation of the structure during the six week summer holiday period, so he specified a prefabricated concrete structure that could be built in just a few days.
Two layers of steel fencing were added to create see-through walls, which are curved over at the top to prevent balls from escaping. The outer layer sits within a Corten steel planting box, so that ivy can grow up and eventually surround the court.
Ramps extend down from both sides of the structure, leading to an infants' play area on one side and an entrance to the building on the other.
Since its opening, children at the school have nicknamed the structure "The Whale" in reference to its bulbous shape.
Other playground structures completed in recent years include a pavilion featuring funhouse mirrors and a building with fairytales engraved into its facade. See more stories about schools.
Photography is by Miguel de Guzmán.
Here's a translated project description from the architect:
Elevated Sports Court at Lasalle Franciscanas School
The commission is originated by the need from the school to augment the total surface of the courtyard that due to the great amount of students and parents that usually gather during the day, can sometimes obstruct the correct developing of the sports and leisure activities that should take place in it.
The courtyard is 33 metres wide by 35 metres long and has a south-east orientation. It is formed by the existing school that has a U form with two wings, one from the 50's and another one from the 70's.
The fact of being a school meant that we had to accomplish the building works exclusively during the summer months. That fact made immediately think about a prefabricated concrete structure that could be built in a couple of days, and that could also solve the 13 meters distance that we wanted to cover in the ground level.
The necessary elimination of the two existing trees in the courtyard gave another of the key drivers of the project; the inclusion of vegetation in the new structure. To do so we have designed a 70 metres long corten steel flower pot from which almost three hundreds of ivy plants grow, that in a few years will have covered the whole metallic bubble.
That metallic bubble is formed with a double layer of galvanized steel, so one of the layers can help the ivy grow while the other one can resist the practice of teenager ball-related sports.
The ground level hosts a garden-bench with an organic shape that includes different species of plants and allows the parents and the students to sit down and observe. The relation of the new volume with the rest of the school also had to be solved, for which a soft 45-meter ramp was designed to connect the ground level with an intermediate level and the elevated court.
Another organic ramp was also included to let the children from the infantile area get out to their courtyard´s zone, also in the ground level and partly under the court.
The later visits to the school have revealed the success of the project and its fast iconic assimilation by the students, who have kindly called it "The Whale".
Architect: Guzmán de Yarza Blache
Finishing Date: September 2012
Location: Calle Andrés Piquer 5, Zaragoza.Spain
Client: Lasalle Franciscanas School
Built Surface: 350 sqm
Budget: 290.000 Euros
Contractor: GM Empresa Constructora
Collaborators: Ana Guzmán Malpica, Julien Luengo-Gómez
Quantity Surveyor: Jose Manuel Arguedas
Structure: Josep Agustí de Ciurana, PRAINSA
Above: ground level plan - click for larger image
Above: court level plan - click for larger image
Above: roof plan - click for larger image
Above: long section - click for larger image
Above: cross section - click for larger image
Above: long elevation - click for larger image
Above: side elevation - click for larger image