The Fresco Parkinson Institute’s offices in Fiesole were created by revamping a villa located in a lovely position atop the Sant’Apollinare hill, surrounded by the picturesque rolling Tuscan landscape in which nature and man have combined to create iconic beauty. The original structure was a Romanesque chapel that was altered on multiple occasions between the 15th and 20th Centuries, initially to expand the religious building and later, in the 19th Century, to convert it into a private villa. The design by architect Gianluca Aquila from GGA architectural workshop focused on restoring architectural unity and creating a setting that, through the combination of architecture, landscape and light, would inspire the researchers working for the Institute. The majority of the work involved adding volumes created in cooperation with Promo, whose precise, minimal architectural language helps create a formal distinction between old and new. The use of materials like extra-clear glass and steel for the profiles and finishings, treated to create a special calamine zinc-ore effect that gives a burnished, natural look, helps the new volumes bring a changed, harmonized unity to the different parts, while also improving space usage. The roof for the 19th-Century core was forged from an old terrace, forming a transparent rooftop loggia with 360° views of the countryside and Florence. The galvanized steel structure is clad with coated sheets with a polished look, and the large windows are framed by profiles, jambs, architraves and sills in burnished steel that project out from the line of the glazing to provide some shade from summer sunlight. On the first floor, a balcony was added overlooking the interior courtyard, using a projecting three-sided box shape (top, bottom and one side) made of coated metal with a glossy look. The parapet, with extra-clear glass, is fixed into the base of the steel box-like structure, and then supported by an upright and a handrail that, also made of coated metal, help stabilize the balcony. The lower profile of the terrace forms a string course along the south-east and north-east elevations, creating a visual effect that adds unity to the three sides of the 18th-Century core. The project also included removing and replacing the old windows and doors frames. For example, on the ground floor, a new entrance leading into the garden was created and the portico looking onto the revamped internal courtyard was renovated by adding reflective glazing with a frame (jambs, architraves, sill) in burnished steel. Promo’s choice of technical systems and solutions, including the OS2 profiles by Secco Sistemi, was driven by the architect’s decisions and preferences, seeking solutions that would add lightness, without eroding the originality and elegance of the original complex. The building was coated in natural hydraulic lime to bring that overall harmony of materials both the design team and the client wanted.
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