The project to convert the former power station of Venice’s Santa Lucia railway station to residential use has considerable operational and theoretical significance. The original building, constructed between 1933 and 1937, was designed by Angiolo Mazzoni, a key figure in the impetus towards modernising Italian architecture during the Thirties as expressed by the rationalist movement. Mazzoni’s modern yet discreet style authored several railway stations and post offices around Italy. The Venice-based Gruppo FON Architetti practice has delivered a carefully thought out, elegant design that reconciles the apparently irreconcilable: developed by EstCapital Group and realized by Gruppo Maltauro, it creates a contemporary living unit while preserving a major example of quality architecture, despite the numerous alterations made down the years to the interior. The architects carried out a thorough investigation of the existing architecture before coming up with their rational, functional project that springs from, and preserves, key spatial and architectural features of the former power station. The result is effortless and streamlined. The cotto-clad facades are a physical and spiritual connection with the former building, the state-of-the-art insulation of the perimeter wall being discreetly placed internally. The original - typically Rationalist - pattern of horizontal strip windows and large vertical apertures has been preserved, a feature that determines the spatial distribution of the new apartments inside. The original layout of the different volumes was a function of the “coal path” through the plant. This has been turned into a dynamic sequence in keeping with contemporary living requirements. The liveable terraces with sweeping views over Venice have now been given wood flooring. Other amenable residential features include internal courts and gardens. The new design has left the building envelope untouched. All new volumes have structural frames of steel pillars and visible wooden beams on appropriate foundations. The double-height entrance to the building leads directly into the circulation corridor. This sinuous circuit - repeated on each floor - stands in effective contrast to the right-angled perimeter. The round lift shaft also deliberately recalls other rounded vertical structures of the original building, including the (preserved) chimneystack. Inside, an assortment of different materials and colours gives a sense of refinement and restraint. In the communal areas, the gypsum board partition walls are light coloured while floors are laid with different sized and coloured ceramic slabs. In the apartments, the flooring is all wood while the staircase parapets are in coloured glazing as are the protective guards on the glazed apertures. Just as the former heat-generating plant stood as an example of avant-garde technology, so too the new residence boasts cutting-edge, environment-friendly HVAC technology in the heart of an historic city centre: a ground source heating system with 3 pumps and 28 underground pipes reaching deep into the earth provide heat through radiant panels while primary air circulation is ensured with a mechanical exchange system.