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Istituto degli Innocenti Garden, Florence

designers: Giovanni Fumagalli, Silvia Galluzzi, Lorenzo Caporro, Simona Malizia, Chiara Visone, Andrea Lombardi
client: Istituto degli Innocenti di Firenze
project: 2013-2014
construction: 2015-2016
total surface area: 3,000 m2

With its six centuries of history, the Istituto degli Innocenti in Florence is the most ancient institution dedicated to child welfare. The structure hosting it, designed by Filippo Brunelleschi, expresses the founding aims of Renaissance architecture.
Behind the buildings of the complex is the Giardino Grande, a public park space of great value in downtown Florence. This is where the almost 200 children guests of the nursery of the Institute play every day. The new layout integrates with the architecture of the complex. Bordered spaces and playground equipment lay along the axis of symmetry of the complex and reproduce the geometry of the square, the matrix shape of Brunelleschi’s architecture.
The project has aimed at obtaining two results: to enhance the value of the location and to provide the children with occasions for play, friendship and discovery.
Here the children will not find the more common traditional urban and school playground games, but an unusual landscape consisting of natural elements and wooden artefacts to be interpreted together with their play fellows and their educators.
The play houses have transparent walls or walls with many window openings to play with light or for looking in/out. Paved surfaces, trails and wooden tubs are scattered on the grass, among the trees, as special places for meeting, playing, cultivating, discovering. Debarked and smoothed trunk slices – simply placed on the ground or joined into elementary compositions – are natural games open to the children’s imagination. New trees and a sinuous line of various species of bush complement the existing vegetation, creating small bends and small hideaways.