Tuesday, July 6, 2010

We Hit the Ground Running!

Today was a full day with morning lectures about the cultural project that is the Loris Malaguzzi International Center, which is located in a former cheese warehouse. Carla Rinaldi spoke about the need for educators to have an international perspective, recognizing that the best pedagogy comes from the outside and that it is important to keep looking outward in a mode of “permanent research”. If you don’t research, you become stagnant and stuck in the status quo.

We also heard from the principal architect in charge of the building and renovation of the International Center as well as the graphic designer who led a team to create the logo for the center. Much of their presentations were unrelated to teaching, but their involvement highlighted how important it is for experts in these fields to understand the pedagogy of the schools.

The preschool and primary school attached to the International Center was designed by teams of pedagogistas, atelieristas, architects, and designers who took many things into consideration in its planning. We were not able to take pictures inside the school, but we have a few examples of the kinds of soft furniture designed for the schools. Here is what struck us about this unbelievable space:

• Huge open spaces, high ceilings, sky lights, large open windows, transparent walls and openings.
• The classrooms are situated around a large piazza that was large and open. In the piazza there was dress up, many places to pause/sit/explore, and resources for parents.
• There are spaces designed for small groups of children to do different activities.
• Every classroom had a mini-studio.
• There were 6 additional studios dedicated to light (huge screen), body/senses, movement & music, sound, painting (8’ X 4’ paper on the floor), and nature (stones, leaves, branches, projector and 3’ x 9’ light table).
• Each classroom was two levels, providing an opportunity for children to change their point of view. Second floor had sleeping cots and room for project work.
• The rear of the classroom was terraced with 12” risers. Creates smaller work spaces and endless possibilities for play.
• A paved courtyard with small stones.
• A dining area with a variety of table heights and chair/mat options.
• Bathrooms with 4 sinks of varying sizes and with different spigots to allow for water play.
• Tape measurers and lines representing the children’s heights in the bathroom with pictures of the children taped beside. In older classrooms a number recorded, too.
• Preschool classes had 24-26 children and two teachers. We have no idea how many studio teachers there were.
• Classroom walls were white with one accent wall of color. The rest of the center was light yellow, blue, green and orange.
• Very few blocks! Only 2 medium sized tubs and 1 tub of cardboard rolls for building. Perhaps to push children to look for alternatives?
• A light table embedded in a floor mat to enable children to crawl up to and/or lay down to explore or draw.
• At least three spaces for children’s belongings: mailboxes, cubby space, and portfolio collection boxes. Maybe lockers also—we didn’t open them, though.
• Did not see outdoor play space. Did have an amphitheater.


  1. Hi Kelley & Susan! How exciting! You made it! Re: the LM Center's design. Was there any involvement from the children? Also, how many children attend the Center? You mentioned that it includes a primary school as well. How old are those students? Can't wait to hear more from you! Janet

  2. Kelley and Susan-Congratulations to you and the school for making this trip a reality! I am so excited for you and I love this idea of the blog. I will make sure to keep updated. Enjoy every minute.
    jennifer (azzariti)

  3. Hi Janet and Jen,

    Thanks for posting! It's comforting to know that others are out there with us.

    Janet, to answer your questions, the school at the LM Centre is brand new and they had three preschool classes this year (3s, 4s, and 5s). They had just closed for the summer and were in the process of moving the 5s class to the kindergarten class. Eventually, they plan to have both a K and 1st grade at the center--they are adding a class a year. The current classes range in size from 24-26 children with 2 teachers per class. We do not know how many additional supporting staff are on hand. Interestingly, we learned an intention planning team involves the 2 teachers, the pedagogista, the atelierista and the COOK! We will try and find out if children contributed to the design of the new space. We do know all involved in the planning spent time carefully observing children and learning about the RE philosophy. The principal architect has been involved in Reggio schools since the 80s and his wife was an atelierista at one time.

    K & S