Can you tell us about the Sant’Andrea school complex?
Sandy Attia: The interesting thing about this project is that there are four functions combined: kindergarten, primary school, library and multipurpose gym. This is truly multipurpose, also used by external associations, by a theatre association and other active associations in this small town. For such a small town, it almost becomes a civic centre, the centre of life. The message is that school still has civic value. It may be trivial, but it is reality. It is a civic architecture, and as such, it has depth and a right to beauty. The other aspect is that of post-occupancy. We conducted a joint research with the University of Bressanone to understand how people, working within a space if they are happy, interface with the structure. It’s more of a process aspect, but as an architect it doesn’t often happen to go back to your building. Having this opportunity, I was able to go and monitor other architects’ buildings, to find out what people said: the complaints, what worked, what didn’t. It is remarkably interesting for buildings such as schools. This project has been very painful. The administration’s process was a long and difficult confrontation, but it was still greatly satisfyin, even if within a participatory process, in which it always seems that there are requests that the architect must follow because they are imposed; the reality is that you have to offer your idea which then ends up in the system with the whole project. There are pros and cons in this process.
From our interview with Modus Architects