The senior citizens centre is located in Falcognana, a suburb of Rome on Via Ardeatina, which underwent rapid urbanization during the second half of last century. The building is part of a larger public building project by IaN+, which, in addition to the building that houses the senior citizens centre, includes public open spaces (a square and furnished terraces), green areas, and a multifunctional building. With the project located on the urban fringe, the aim was to create a smooth transition between the site and the surrounding countryside. The gentle slope of the land was exploited as a positive element and a key part of the overall design.
In designing the centre, which opened in December 2010, IaN+ combined a rigorous approach with conceptual inventiveness so as to simultaneously give the construction an elegance and visual simplicity, achieving, through its architectural elements and measured structural accents, an effective and expressive outcome. (For a similar approach, see the project for the hydrobiological laboratory at Tor Vergata University in Rome, The Plan, issue 016, 2006.) The building has a simple rectangular plan, divided into two trapezium-shaped spaces with different areas. The two spaces are separated by an interior security glass wall and have different floor levels, reflecting the slope of the site. The two levels are joined by a short interior staircase and an exterior ramp, finished in the same irregular quartzite blocks used for the adjoining square. The entrance to the centre is on the upper level.
Glazed walls extend along the perimeter of the building, providing natural lighting for the interior spaces. The walls are constructed from coupled sections of U Glass laminated glass, which contribute to both thermal and acoustic insulation. Alternating sections of the U Glass glazing and individual elements create perceptible differences in transparency and colour.
The linear and almost continuous line of the glazed walls forms a kind of membrane, creating a strong relationship between the interior and exterior, which is further underscored by the structural design. The load-bearing system, which employs beams, pillars, and the extensive use of reinforced concrete, clearly defines an integrated space, not merely visually through the transparency of the walls, but also at the functional level. The area at the front of the centre is extended by three pairs of reinforced concrete pillars, with colouring pigments added to the mix, which rise out from the ground at an angle of around 80 degrees. At the top, the pillars seamlessly transform into beams, with steel wires string between them for training climbing plants. On the exterior, these structural elements will eventually serve as the frame for a trellis of Canadian ivy and an outdoor living space directly connected to the centre. On the interior, the beams are also visible, with their density of colour punctuating the roof slab, the material itself and the chromatic lines it forms, highlighting a physical and conceptual continuity between the interior and exterior spaces. Adding a further variation to the use of materials, steel columns are positioned to support the roof at the points where the beams intersect.
The design represents an articulate vision, an overlapping of architectural priorities, with careful attention given to resolving the difficult problem of the relationship between the natural environment and the reality of modern urban fringe areas, which exert a great influence with their aggressive building volumes, with a building that sits naturally within its environment. The building is simultaneously recognizable, supporting its functional value with a design that defines it as urban architecture and, through subtle elements, part of the landscape.
Location: Falcognana, Rome
Client: Rome Commune Government
Gross floor area: 310 m2
Cost: 360,000 Euros
Contractor: Aedifica Appalti
Structural: Piero Bucchi
Plant: Bernardino Carpentieri
U Profile Glass: Pilkington
Photos: © IaN+
IaN+ (Carmelo Baglivo, Luca Galofaro and Stefania Manna) was established in 1997 through a coming together of people with different professions and experience. With its multidisciplinary approach, the studio sets out to bring together architectural theory and practice in a cohesive whole.
The studio is active in projects of various sizes, including interior architecture, public works, and urban and regional projects. Among its projects currently nearing completion are a welcome centre and passageways in the new “Ospedale del Mare” in Naples, a swimming pool and sports centre in the Arco di Travertino area of Rome, and an elementary school in Herat, Afghanistan.
Its ‘Goethe House’, ‘Mies van der Rohe Foundation’, and ‘Microutopie’ are all in the permanent collection of the FRAC Centre (Fonds Régional d’Art Contemporain) in Orléans, France, which features experimental architecture from the 1960s to today and organizes travelling exhibitions in various cities throughout the world.
In 2006 IaN+ received a gold medal for Italian architecture for first projects.
In 2010 it was nominated for the Iakov Chernikhov International Prize. In 2010 it published Modelli IaN+ (LIBRIA Melfi). In December 2007 it released its first monograph, IaN+ – New Ecology (AADCU Publication, Beijing, China).
It participates in numerous international architecture exhibitions, including ArchiLab in Orléans (2000, 2001, 2002) and Venice’s Architecture Biennale (2000, 2004, 2008, 2010).