andrés jaque designs private school in madrid as a stacked and complex 'multiverse'

andrés jaque designs private school in madrid as a stacked and complex 'multiverse'

‘colegio reggio’: an assemblage of diversity for self-learning


Architect Andrés Jaque from Office for Political Innovation has challenged the paradigms of educational spaces with ‘Colegio Reggio,’ a new private school in Madrid designed as an assemblage of different ‘worlds’ that ignite in children a desire for exploration and inquiry. ‘Avoiding homogenization and unified standards, the school’s architecture aims to become a multiverse where the layered complexity of the environment becomes readable and experiential. It operates as an assemblage of different climates, ecosystems, architectural traditions, and regulations,’ he writes.


Its vertical progression begins with a ground floor engaged with the terrain, where classrooms for younger students are placed. Stacked on top are intermediate classes coexisting with reclaimed water and soil tanks that nourish an indoor garden reaching the uppermost levels under a greenhouse structure. Meanwhile, the architect organized classrooms for older around this inner garden, like a small village. According to Jaque, this distribution of uses implies an ongoing maturity process that translates into students’ growing capacity to explore the school ecosystem on their own and with their peers.

andrés jaque designs private school in madrid as a stacked and complex 'multiverse'
all images © José Hevia



The second floor, formalized as a large void opening through arches to the surrounding ecosystems, functions as the central social plaza at ‘Colegio Reggio.’ Here, the architecture encourages teachers and students to participate in school government and to interact with the surrounding landscapes and territories. This 464.5 sqm central area is over eight meters high and presented as a cosmopolitical agora: a semi-enclosed space crisscrossed by the air tempered by the holm oak trees from the neighboring countryside. Here, mundane activities like exercising coexist with discussions about how the school is run as a community and how to relate to the neighboring streams and fields.


Moreover, within that space, a network of ecologists and edaphologists designed small gardens to host and nurture communities of insects, butterflies, birds, and bats. ‘Ultimately, this floor operates as a more-than-human summiting chamber where students and teachers can sense and attune to the ecosystems they are part of,’ notes Andrés Jaque (see more here). 

andrés jaque designs private school in madrid as a stacked and complex 'multiverse'
‘Colegio Reggio’ is a private school in Madrid



exposing mechanisms while reducing footprint + consumption


As an alternative to the standard efforts of hiding mechanical systems, all services here are kept visible, turning the flows that keep the building active into an opportunity for students to interrogate how their bodies and social interactions depend on water, energy, and air exchanges and circulations. Indeed, the building unapologetically allows pipes, conduits, wires, and grilles to become part of its visual and material ecosystem.


On the other hand, in the Southern European context, where sustainable high-tech solutions are only available to high-budgeted, corporate or state-promoted buildings, ‘Colegio Reggio’ develops a low-budget strategy to reduce its environmental footprint based on several design principles. The first one is opting for verticality to reduce land occupation. Instead of resorting to to a horizontal expansion – as is the case for 90% of school designs – the private school takes on a compact, vertical shape — a decision that minimizes its footprint, optimizes the overall need for foundations, and radically reduces its facade rate.


The second principle focuses on radically reducing construction: no claddings, no drop ceilings, no raised technical floors, no wall lining, and no ventilated facades. Additionally, by replacing a big part of construction with simpler strategies and mechanical systems distribution, the team was able to reduce the overall amount of material in the facades, roofs, and interior partitions by 48%. ‘The result presents a naked building where the non-edited visibility of its operating components defines its aesthetics,’ adds Jaque. 

andrés jaque designs private school in madrid as a stacked and complex 'multiverse'
a complex ecosystem that progresses vertically



The third intervention introduces cork wrapping as thermal isolation and support for more-than-human life. Specifically, the structural team covered 80% of the school envelope in 14.2 cm of projected 9,700 Kg/m3 dense cork. This natural solution, developed by the Office for Political Innovation, is fitted in vertical and pitched parts of the external volume to provide a thermal isolation of R-23.52, double that of what Madrid’s regulations require; this helps reduce consumed energy when heating the school’s interiors by 50%. Beyond this, the cork’s irregular surfaces allow for organic material to accumulate, eventually turning the building enveloped into a habitat for microbiological fungi, vegetal, and animal life.


Lastly, in line with the second principle, the architect approached the project with a ‘more thinking, less material‘ mindset. Led by researcher and structural engineer Lago González Quelle, the team has shaped, analyzed, and dimensioned the structure in such a way as to reduce the thickness of loading walls by more than 150 mm, implying a 33% reduction in the embedded energy of the building’s structure.

andrés jaque designs private school in madrid as a stacked and complex 'multiverse'
cork-wrapping the multi-layered facades for thermal isolation and supporting more-than-human life

andrés jaque designs private school in madrid as a stacked and complex 'multiverse'
inviting a desire to explore, interrogate, and self-educate

andrés jaque designs private school in madrid as a stacked and complex 'multiverse'
second floor, formalized with large arches that open to the surrounding ecosystems

andrés jaque designs private school in madrid as a stacked and complex 'multiverse'
a color combination that nods to the multiverse complexity

andrés jaque designs private school in madrid as a stacked and complex 'multiverse'
the design moves away from conventional educational spaces





project info:


name: Colegio Reggio 

location: El Encinar de los Reyes, Madrid, Spain 

total area: 5,496 sqm

architecture: Office for Political Innovation

lead architect: Andrés Jaque | @andres_jaque

team: Roberto González García, Luis González Cabrera, Alberto Heras, Ismael Medina Manzano, Jesús Meseguer Cortés, Paola Pardo-Castillo, Rajvi Anandpara, Juan David Barreto, Inês Barros, Ludovica Battista, Shubhankar Bhajekar, Elise Durand, Drishti Gandhi, Maria Karagianni, Bansi Mehta, Alessandro Peja, Meeerati Rana, Mishti Shah, Saumil Shanghavi

structural engineering: Lago González Quelle, Víctor García Rabadán – Qube Ingeniería de Estructuras 

services engineering: Juan Antonio Posadas – JG Ingenieros

quantity surveying: Javier González Nieto, Javier Mach Cestero – Dirtec Arquitectos Técnicos

ecology and edaphology: Jorge Basarrate, Álvaro Mingo – Mingobasarrate

project management: Ángel David Moreno Casero, Carlos Peñalver Álvarez, Almudena Antón Vélez

photography: José Hevia | @joseheviaofficial 

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