Palazzo Rio Novo is located in Venice historic center, in Sestiere Dorsoduro.
The project focuses on the renovation of this building, partially abandoned, designed in the mid-1950s by the Milan Architects Cesare Pea and Luigi Vietti, and realized from 1952 to 1961. The building, designed for the offices of Società Adriatica di Elettricità, later nationalized by ENEL (the Italian energy company), that became the owner too, is representative, for its typological and formal characteristics, of the more advanced international architecture tendences of the 50s and 60s. This style, in Venice, is well represented by other contemporary buildings, as Casa alle Zattere by Ignazio Gardella and the INAIL headquarter, in San Simeon Piccolo, by Giuseppe Samonà and Renata Trincanato.
The realization of this building is contemporary to the one of Vajont Dam too: their completion was supposed to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the society founded by Giuseppe Volpi and managed by Vittorio Cini, who was the client of this work. The area that has been chosen for the project - of considerable interest, overlooking Rio Novo canal, which has been realized during Italy’s fascist period, between Piazzale Roma and Ca’ Foscari Rio - had been object of study for CIAM summer school in 1954.
The existing architectural layout of the building, which has been preserved, was due to Milan Architects Cesare Pea and Luigi Vietti; the garden project relied to Pietro Porcinai. The building represents a "unicum" in Venice, and is characterized by a main volume which is 6 meters tall, another smaller building facing the water, and a tree-lined garden. The building stands out for its high-level formal qualities, which can be found in the design of the facade, with alternating sections of double-windows and exposed bricks, for what concerns the secondary volume, and in the wise use of reinforced concrete and Istrian stone for what concerns the main volume, in which many advanced constructive techniques had been used, such as the coffered ceiling or the partition of the spaces, which are wide and bright, flexible and open. All those characteristics allowed an easy reuse of the building.
The project wanted to valorize this interesting architecture: thanks to the configuration of the volume, and to the possibilities it permits, it has been easier to give a new function to the building. The aim of our team was to create a modern hotel, with a new mood and a new layout and functional system; and to undertake the seismic and plant system upgrading, always keeping unchanged the structural and architectonical nature of the building. One of the purposes was to make it a sustainable and energy-efficient architecture, by reaching A2 energetic class, starting from F. The result is a 4 stars hotel with 144 rooms, a wide restaurant area, a bar and 4 meeting rooms with flexible spaces and a high indoor comfort. The building is today the main structure of the Spanish hotel company NH in the Venice historic center.
The transformation of interior spaces implicated the need of changing the accesses. The study of the spaces and drawing of the garden established the conservation of the existing trees. With the same aim, also the difference in height between the garden, the alley and the historical entrance from Calle Ragusei has been maintained. The clients can enter the structure through a new access, characterized by a new metal gate sustained to a reinforced concrete wall realized with some wood formworks. This new entrance, that has a representative and distinctive function, addresses the clients to the new access staircase, through a path made of stone slabs that crosses the whole garden, in order to guarantee, for disabled people, the access at height of the hall thanks to a new lifting platform.
The stair is supported by two metallic hourglass elements, that remind of the architectural language of the building and that give to the staircase a lightness effect.
The project provided for the removal of the metallic emergency stairs, which were placed on the façade at the end of ‘900, without any architectonic contextualization. The new hotel has, on the inside, a new emergency staircase and other new mechanical elevator systems which help an easy use of service spaces on basement and ease guest service on the other floors.
The historical and physical location of this new hotel inspires a mood which is linked to 50s Italian design and to the Venice Film Festival. The references to these topics can be found through all the spaces, from the public areas to the rooms. The spaces of the entrance and reception, with their 10 meters length, are characterized by a bright screen - with a custom-made pattern that reminds of the experimental ribbed ceiling of the main volume of the building - which welcomes the clients and embraces the two wings of the lobby. This last one and the restaurant are characterized by different palettes of colours, both of them searching for a harmony with the shapes, the architectural solutions and the finishings.
The 144 rooms, some of which are wide junior suites with a private living room, have been designed with a modern style in shades of white, beige and blue, and are characterized by floor to ceiling windows which illuminate the spaces and show a beautiful panorama on Venetian bridges and canals.
Custom-made elements alternate with design elements in order to realize some modern, sophisticated and vibrant spaces, thanks to the use of vivid colours and retro patterns.
Nh Rio novo building is protected, according to Art. 13 D.lgs. 42/2004, as a site of cultural interest.
AI Progetti is a multidisciplinary company that incorporates in one workflow a wide range of specializations: engineering, architecture, interior design, landscape design, urban planning, restoration, project & contruction management. We work as a single point of reference, capable of following the project development and its realization from the feasibility study to the executive and constructive project. This is possible because of our method, based on identification and sharing of a specific aim, through the collaboration between various disciplines and different requests (the one of the client, community and context).
In a flow of interaction and constant exchange between specific and general, between vertical specialization and design overview, we give life to works that exceed expectations not only in the final output, but also in the respect of deadlines, of the budget and of the aim that we share with the client.
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