Thin sheets of brightly painted steel have been folded to create this origami-inspired canopy, designed to shelter a school playground in an Andalusian village. Featuring a pale turquoise roof and a hot-pink underside, the angular pavilion was created by Spanish architect Julio Barreno Gutiérrez for a school in Algodonales – a small village in the Cádiz region of Andalusia in southern Spain.
The playground of the Principe de Asturias School is split over two levels, which before now were poorly connected. To improve access between them, the architect added a ramp and a short flight of stairs. “Two playgrounds are separated in two different levels to the west and north sides, a different level that became dangerous for the little kids,” explained Barreno Gutiérrez, whose past school-design projects include an extension featuring lime-green interiors and a zigzagging walkway. The goal for this project was the functional necessity of building a space protected from the strong sun or untimely rains, to allow everyday breaks, and an interesting improvement of the connection between the two playgrounds.
The metal canopy was anchored across the two different levels to shade the ramp and staircase from the sun and rain. Sheets of one-centimeter-thick steel were bent to create the faceted shape and pointed legs. Both the bright coloring and folding technique were intended to be reminiscent of origami, ultimately lending a unique appeal to the structure. The architectural tool was found in the fancy children’s world full of color and fun. The structural quality and the inherent flexibility of origami, typical of the many craft activities developed in class by the children themselves, became the genetic property to formally develop the managed element.