The Theatre of Reading

Piancastagnaio (SI)

The design for “NaturAtelier” (Nature-Atelier), “SerrAtelier” (Greenhouse-Atelier) and “Teatro della lettura” (the Theatre of Reading) constitute three complementary stages of a research into educational spaces, undertaken by studio Iotti+Pavarani in 2017 with the creation of school-based ateliers in three different settings, two nursery schools in Cosenza and Assisi and one primary school in Piancastagnaio (Siena).

These projects form part of the FARE SCUOLA (School Making) initiative promoted and supported by Enel Cuore and Fondazione Reggio Children with the aim of improving the quality of the learning environment in 60 nursery and primary schools throughout Italy.

These projects thus involve the adaptation of spaces within three schools, ensuring a welcoming atmosphere is combined with elements designed to stimulate curiosity and the sense of discovery, allowing children to establish an autonomous and constructive relationship with the space, others and themselves.

The three designs have been drawn up to meet the specific requirements of the schools in which they are located. They share the same philosophy in their initial approach, seeking to generate an overall landscape, promoting dialogue between dynamic settings and a more intimate scale appropriate to the child’s first introduction. They are characterised by a use of natural materials in order to exploit their characteristic colours, textures and smells.

The design represents a transformation of the hall chosen as the subject matter of the intervention, interpreting it in a way that leaves ample space dedicated to the encouragement of reading while also providing the opportunity for staging theatrical productions. The design of the space thus follows the idea of offering children a place of freedom where each is able to explore and invent his or her own approach to reading.

At the same time it provides a radical transformation of the concept of both “Library” and “Theatre” in a space which is essentially an Atelier. The two functions are effectively “hybridised”, bringing the dynamics of movement, improvisation and exchange into the library while the presence of books in the theatre takes on the role both as scenery and “protagonists” with which the children are able to interact.

A single floor-space giving the impression of the hull of a ship is made from wood, modelling itself at the sides of the hall in the form of integrated seating with spaces for books. It extends to the far end to create a stage to be used for the performance of plays.. On the wall facing the glass wall there is a suspended panel/shelf which provides a home for other objects/books/message board while a folded back display is identified as the “Try me Reading Shelf”.

The unified configuration of the hall is intended to allow its appropriation by its child actors/library users, leaving them complete freedom to use the space in the manner most congenial to each. It starts with the discovery of their preferred reading position prompted by the comfortable cushions arranged on the floor, the poufs, the curved seating and the chaise‐longue with its inclined back-rest, as also by the collective seating and the tables for small group-based activities.

  • Client
    Fondazione Reggio Children with Enel Cuore Onlus
  • Project Team

    Iotti+Pavarani Architetti

  • Design Team

    Paolo Iotti, Marco Pavarani
    Giulia Piacenti, Roberto Bertani, Stefano Nicolini, Gabriele Brunettini


    Fondazione Reggio Children:
    Barbara Donnici, Elena Giacopini (responsible for pedagogical coordination),
    Marco Cingi, Oliver Forghieri, Massimiliano Massimelli (Head of communications)

  • Contractor

    Oleari Srl - Wood Interiors Company

  • Phase
  • Schedule

    2017 - Design and construction

  • Budget
    50.000 eur
  • Photos
    Iotti+Pavarani Architetti