The 3-storey Hydrobiological Station is sited in an area where the city peters out into countryside, and green fields butt up against typical over-spill building stock. Part of Rome’s Tor Vergata University, the offices and plant serving the aquaculture sheds and glasshouses are lodged in two old farm houses. The whole complex recalls its previous life as a farming estate.
The new laboratory building stands in the central court. Although small, it gives a dynamic reading to the cluster. Its unabashed trapeze shape makes no attempt to meld with its surrounds.
Clear-lined, almost stark, the volume offers four highly distinctive elevations. On the entrance side, the last floor cantilevers markedly, an entire structural glass wall opening onto the meeting area, its single steep roof plunging inward. The rear elevation is a decisive contrast of empty and solid space. The façade is sliced in two, one part open to reveal pipes and plant, the other with three horizontal windows. The side façades are also in stark contrast to each other: vertically developed windows on the one, a series of small, rounded apertures, more as if to underline light from the interior rather than illuminate the building, on the other. The interior - neutral tones throughout - is organised along a corridor running parallel to the staircase located on the south wall and illuminated by the rounded apertures.