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Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.

Nido Caribimbi in Parma, Italy by ZPZ PARTNERS

May 3rd, 2012 by Sumit Singhal

Article source: ZPZ PARTNERS

A company and municipal Nido (crèche, nursery) for 48 children aged 12-36 months divided into two classes (one for the younger age-group and one for older children). Ten places are available to children on municipal waiting lists. The building is in energy class A.


  • Architect: ZPZ PARTNERS
  • Name of Project: Nido Caribimbi
  • Location: Cavagnari, Parma, Italy
  • Type: A company and municipal Nido (crèche, nursery) for 48 children aged 12-36 months
  • Design team: Michele Zini, Claudia Zoboli, Sara Michelini, Sara Callioni
  • Pedagogical consultancy: Elisa Bulgheroni

Resting room

  • Client: Cariparma Crédit Agricole
  • Built area: Area: 3,530 sqm
  • Building area: 867 sqm
  • Covered area: 1,189 sqm
  • Date of opening: 5 September 2011
  • Furnishing: PLAY+, Reggio Emilia
  • Lighting fixtures: Artemide, Luceplan,Rotaliana, Xal, Lucifero’s
  • Contractor: MDE, Piacenza


Project guidelines

The Infant-toddler centre project is based on three guidelines

1-dialogue between pedagogy and architecture

The challenge of the project was to build an environment for children in which the functional and aesthetic identity speaks of and supports a precise image of the child: competent, an explorer, equipped with a hundred languages and great abilities.

2-sustainability and attention towards ecology

The project was conceived to use renewable energy sources (solar energy from photovoltaic solar panels), contain energy dispersal through a high level of insulation and thermal inertia, and use passive systems (orientation of the building, covered porch areas) to protect from the sun’s radiation.

3-a public-private hybrid

The project aims to support services combining the right of children to a beautiful and stimulating environment, the needs of parents working in the Cariparma bank, the needs of the local neighbourhood and of the city, and find a meeting point in the project.

Interior View

Spatial distribution: layout and functions

The Nido is organised in medium-sized areas connected to each other by a central square: so that there are many spatial opportunities for activities but the sense of space remains on a scale closer to children aged 1 and 2 years.

The wings are connected by a single roof and accessible from the central, covered air conditioned piazza. The classrooms (one for small children and one for older children) and the “laboratories” (lunch and atelier areas) are distributed towards the south to prioritise natural light and the view of green areas; offices and service areas (laundry, changing rooms, store-room) are in the north and look onto the road. Classrooms are sub-divided into areas intended for diverse activities to offer children a multiplicity of educational opportunities and include a sleeping area; cloakroom spaces and a bathroom area complete the classroom spaces.

The central square, which receives light laterally and from a large, round central skylight, acts as the hub of the building, offering opportunities for meeting, socialisation and play different from those of the classroom, and the simultaneous presence of children of different ages. The classrooms, atelier and dining area all have covered porch areas for outdoor activities.


Exterior image of the architecture

The building is made up of a series of buildings connected by a central square which is covered with a roof of varying geometries, like crumpled paper – the shape of which originates in the attempt to optimise the use of the photovoltaic solar panels that make the building almost autonomous in terms of energy.

The cladding of the building is in vertical strips of wood in three colours and sizes arranged in a casual order which continues into the sloping area under the outcrop of the roof, forming a pattern of varied grain which abuts softly into the surrounding green. The covered porch and the loggia of each wing appear as if hollowed from the mass of the building and are clad in vertical planks of wood in a coral-red colour. The imagery refers to the idea of a sliced fruit, the inner flesh appears coloured and the exterior skin is material and textured.


Finishings and furnishings – the sensorial qualities

The project for the furnishings and interior details takes its starting point from the premise that environment, understood as the combined spatial and sensory qualities which include architecture, furnishings, the immaterial qualities in a space (acoustics, colour, light, the material landscape) is of fundamental importance in determining the pedagogical project, both in its capacity for influencing children in sensory and cognitive ways, and because the sensory qualities of an environment have strong empathy with the synaesthesia in children’s way of learning, and also because they are strategic in giving identity to an environment which must be flexible and fluctuating.

For these reasons children deserve environments which are rich and stimulating from a sensory point of view; this does not mean chaotic, confused, too full, with a high sign volume, rather it means complex, variegated, rich in different languages and different sensory stimuli.

Meeting room

– Colors

Therefore the project has a colour range with many nuances, distant from the simplification of red-yellow-blue, the banal image adults have of a non-competent child, towards a system of many colours, colours juxtaposed tone on tone to generate vibration and variety, or the use of contrast, taking care to lower the saturation of colour and “volume” when juxtaposing complementary colours. Taking care to create a hierarchy: low saturation colours in environment spaces with accents of colour; colours with a moderate degree of impact in furnishings, brighter colours in the object landscape.

Meeting room

– Lightscape

The lightscape is made up of different light sources (fluorescent, halogen, LED) in order to exploit their different characteristics: their capacity for generating shadow, for producing coloured shadows (halogen yes, fluorescent no) and their renderings of true colour. There are diverse forms of light with different photometric volumes for diffused or concentrated light and for direct or indirect light and there are light sources with different colour temperatures. Lights can vary in intensity using dimmers and in tones of colour using RGB based systems.


– Materials

The material landscape is complex and rich; a multi-sensorial environment with surfaces rough and smooth, damp and dry, opaque and glossy, translucent, transparent: strips of wood in three different colour tones, red wood, industrial wood on floors, bleached wood in the ceilings, cement with visible grain on outdoor floors, gloss, matt and relief-pattern tiles, fabrics, lacquers, soft elements of various density, materials with characteristics which change over time (woods) or remain stable (glass, steel).


Sustainable elements

The sustainable design has been interwoven with pedagogical content, and is itself posited as a pedagogical value, and therefore seeks to make itself visible to children and other users, as well as being effective.

Synthesis of sustainable design elements in the Nido Caribimbi

–  the choice of wood technology which has made possible the use of walls with a high level of insulation and energy containment (as well as faster delivery times);

–  the use of sustainable materials which do not give off dangerous substances over time;

–  the use of solar energy, both solar panels for the production of water in the bathrooms and photovoltaic solar panels for the production of electrical energy;

–  exposure and orientation of the building, making it possible to exploit the sun to the greatest extent possible especially during morning hours of activity;

–  the presence of planting, in particular on the south side, protecting from the sun during the summer months and making it possible to enjoy the sun during the winter months. Most of the existing trees have been conserved during construction work;

–  the possibility of dedicated parking areas plus a nearby parking area;

–  acoustic protection from the busiest road.





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Category: Child Care

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