The redevelopment of historic urban areas in the town of Trino, part of the Piedmont Region’s program of works in preparation for the 2006 Turin Winter Olympics, included a number of different projects. Firstly, pedestrian zones and footpaths were planned to connect and improve the visibility of the various functions of the town’s historic centre. This project involved defining the hierarchy of the streets – an overlapping of the Roman, medieval and Baroque periods – and connecting paths between streets, squares and corners. Different paving materials were associated with different streets: porphyry and cobblestones with stone slab carriage-ways were used in less significant streets, while high-quality stone slabs were used in both major and more out-of-the-way spaces. The second part of the works was architectural, including the redevelopment of the civic theatre and the construction of a roof over a parking area to form the surface of a sports field two meters above street level, accessed by a timber staircase, creating an area for social interaction.
The extension of the civic theatre, which no longer served its original function but had become a popular meeting place in the town, represents something of a cross-section of contemporary architecture but in a historical setting. The auditorium is entirely open and visible, with two open galleries protected by a simple metal railing that follows the perimeter of the original walls. The space has a modest quality in which a feature is the bar counters, on the ground floor and in the two galleries, which are semi-circular and finished with Cor-Ten steel. The room is therefore a comfortable, almost homely, space for refreshment and relaxation, while also providing performance space.
The architectural core of the design is the extension that extends out into the square. From the exterior, the extension, with its contemporary design, highlights the transformation of the theatre, while on the interior, it provides an entry area, distinguished by its considerable height, that is comparable to the auditorium itself. It also provided additional more luxurious spaces on the upper levels. A glazed wall, which extends for the entire height of the structure and incorporates the entrance doors, forms the interior shell.
Outside, the cladding is both an architectural and sculptural element: sheets of Cor-Ten steel interweave like metallic wickerwork on a modular structure of steel uprights. The result is a combination of technology and simulated handiwork. Inside, the space is distinguished by three glazed ‘boxes’, with shatter-proof glass on the sides and floor, mounted on beams and connected to the steel supporting structure at different heights, forming ‘liveable’ spaces, in addition to the main hall, marked by their modern appearance.
An aerial stairway connects the two upper floors of the extension. With its steel structure, glass balusters, sheet steel decorative work, hammered sheet metal treads and landings, and a handrail with incorporated lighting, this structure creates the impression of both strength and transparency.
Location: Trino Vercellese, Vercelli
Client: Vercelli Province
Gross Floor Area: 500 m2
Architects: Benedetto Camerana – Camerana&Partners
Design Group: Hermann Kohllöffel, AI Engineering, AI Studio
Structural: Sab Engineering, Studio Furno Associati
Plant: Steci, Studio Isola-Boasso
Restoration: Raffaella Rolfo
Photo by: © Alberto Piovano
Benedetto Camerana (born 1963 in Turin) is an architect and landscape architect with a PhD in the history of architecture and town planning. After completing his tertiary studies, he continued investigating the integration of architecture and landscape, with an eye to the development of a ‘green architecture’. His work in publishing has seen him as editor of trade journals: Eden. L’architettura nel paesaggio (1993–97) and Architettura del Paesaggio (2001–05). He has also presented papers at workshops and conferences, and was speaker at the XXIII UIA World Congress of Architecture, Turin 2008.
Since 1999 he has been a member of the Academic Committee of the IED – Istituto Europeo di Design, and, since 2000, he has coordinated the institute’s master’s degree programme in Exhibit Design. In 2010 he was appointed as professor at the Architectural Design Laboratory of Politecnico di Torino.
In 1997, he established Camerana & Partners in Turin, which works with Italian and European architects. The studio, which participates in design competitions, is active in the fields of urban and landscape design, as well as in major public and private works, particularly residential, office and commercial buildings, entertainment venues, and infrastructure.
In his work, Camerana focuses on technical and formal innovation as part of a concrete commitment to the environment, including through the integration – sometimes experimental – of innovative technologies and natural energy saving systems. His major projects include: the Olympic village for the XX Winter Olympics (Turin, 2006), which was awarded the Gold Medal for Italian Architecture in 2006; the Tecnocity Environment Park (Turin, 1999); the Auchan shopping centre (Cuneo, 2004); the restoration of the RAI Auditorium, designed by Carlo Mollino in 1952 (Turin, 2006); the Bicocca Village shopping centre and multiplex cinema (Milan, 2005); the new AMIAT headquarters in Turin (2007); the critical restoration of the Du Parc serviced apartments in Turin (2007); Urban Center in Rivarolo Canavese (2008); and the Parco Torricelli business incubator in Faenza (2009).
Current projects include a new library, and the Law and Political Science Faculties at Università di Torino, the Church of Maria Madre dei Giovani for Sermig in Turin (2011), and the Porta Europa hi-rise complex in Turin (with Jan Störmer, with work to begin in 2012). Other projects include the urban design of the Novello area of Cesena (2008) and the Città della Salute in Novara (2009).