Fermi Secondary School

Refurbishment of a school in Turin


photos by @Simone Bossi


drawings –


existing building _ ph @Francesca Cirilli –

The project transforms a building built in the 1960s in a semi-peripheral district of Turin into an innovative school, rethinking the architecture according to new pedagogical needs and a renewed relationship with the community. At the urban level, the reorganization of accesses and external areas opens the school spaces to the city. The new main entrance transforms the back of the building into a new façade and draws a large, green, accessible, threshold space. The program is organized to favour a continuous and controlled use of the building that, following the concept of community schools, integrates several activities opened to the neighborhood, such as the gym, library / auditorium, cafeteria that extend directly to the outer space. Recognizing some spatial qualities in the existing building, the intervention reorganizes the spaces and works mainly by addition.

The topic of the new envelope has been interpreted as an opportunity to innovate the entire school structure and as a tool to transmit the pedagogical values of a school open towards the outside. The project proposes an “inhabited envelope” created through the addition of new steel spatial structures that extend educational activities into outdoor terraces, welcome new connective spaces and behave like passive shelding systems. The modularity and repetition of the new frames design a linear façade completed by a metal mesh that emphasizes visual permeability and the relationship with the outside. The compositional theme of the frame is also repeated on the existing building, whose facades are treated with a coat finished with plaster in different grain sizes, creating slight depth of the facade. The facades on the new front and towards the courtyards maintain large windows that enhance the visual permeability among the volumes and the external spaces, giving meaning to the original organization.

The interiors follow the spatial grid of the frames and form a sequence of easy to read spaces in which the furniture is conceived as a transformative element. The ground floor functions as a civic center, where the various functions are held together by an atrium that faces the garden and the two courtyards. On the upper floors, the atrium accommodates recreational and group spaces, while educational activities are organized in clusters, a spatial unit composed of classrooms, cloakrooms and informal learning spaces. The cluster is conceived as an articulated system in which the common space connects the various activities and opens up towards the external collective space. The classrooms are therefore the meeting and hinge point between inside / outside because they maintain a visual permeability towards the common space and can expand the didactic and recreational activity on the terraces, according to a model that refers to the didactic experiments of the open-air schools.

This approach to the project aims to make the Fermi school a case study for the innovation of school facilities no longer in line with the new educational models. The school renovation is part of “Torino Fa Scuola”, a project by Fondazione Agnelli, Compagnia di San Paolo in collaboration with the City of Turin, which promotes cultural, pedagogical and architectural reflection on the new learning spaces. The Fermi school project was the subject of an international competition and involved the school communities through a shared and participatory process that also included the revision of the current teaching model.

Client: Fondazione Agnelli, Compagnia di San Paolo
Team: Alberto Bottero, Simona Della Rocca
Structural and executive planning: Sintecna srl
Mechanics and electrical advisor: Proeco ss
Sustainability and acoustics advisor: Onleco srl
Furniture design: BDR bureau
Construction supervision: Sintecna srl
Art direction: BDR bureau
Project Manager: FCA Partecipazioni S.p.A