Politecnico di Milano – The Ape Tau kindergarten

The Ape Tau kindergarten is the result of the idea to construct a valuable building for L’Aquila in a short time that would materialize as a “constructive” and positive idea after the 2009 earthquake.
The study conducted intends to contribute to finding durable, high quality and, above all, inclusive construction solutions which are all-inclusive and capable of meeting users’ needs, even in emergency conditions.
A reverse engineering process has been conducted to meet this objective, allowing a precise track backwards of all the technological and structural peculiarities of the “Ape Tau” kindergarten built in L’Aquila, Italy, in the Coppito area. Once the design solutions have been examined, the technological-constructive features have been quantitatively analysed and later evaluated by following the holistic approach of the Active House (AH) protocol under the established criteria: comfort, energy, and environment.
The Active House (AH) multi-criteria approach is the reference methodology applied in this study and used for the first time in L’Aquila to evaluate kindergarten performance, allowing the understanding of the design choices and contributing to the ecological transition of buildings constructed in emergency contexts.

The Ape Tau kindergarten was designed by the architectural and engineering studio Atelier 2. Thanks to a participatory and integrated design approach, the kindergarten construction has promoted the area’s regeneration while achieving some of the main goals outlined in the 2030 Agenda, thus regulating a sustainable and child-sized solution.

Overall, the building features an integrated system and technological solutions complying with the specific requirements of a school building. The project layout consists of a high-tech cantilever leading to the entrance and is technically formed of three covered bodies. The building envelope is made entirely of multilayer dry technologies and industrialized elements, ensuring high-quality control, short construction time and minimum site waste. The structure is dry-assembled with bearing elements in wood or galvanized steel, with the inner envelope shell and façades dry stratified and hyper-insulated to gain maximum comfort in winter and summer. The building shape also minimizes dispersion thanks to an optimized area/volume ratio. The building presents roof windows that enhance lighting comfort and allow natural ventilation strategies. From the building services’ aspect, the designed system is considerably advanced. Users can manage the heating and mechanical ventilation system to regulate the internal temperature. The ventilation system and the use of certified materials allow the preservation of indoor air quality for the benefit of fragile users. In addition, the building is supplied with solar thermal panels installed on the inclined entrance shelter to produce electricity and hot water and uses energy from three geothermal sources to power the underfloor heating system with a heat pump.

The overall building performance was calculated by combining the nine AH evaluation parameters for each AH criterion. The Ape Tau overall score is equal to 1.8. The validation process has revealed how, even under emergency conditions, it is possible to design high-quality and durable buildings that can regenerate the existing and regenerate the land.

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