Pisa, a new education center in exposed reinforced concrete
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A new education center in exposed reinforced concrete

Urban regeneration at work in Pisa: a new building with four interconnected volumes

Heliopolis 21 | Diener & Diener Architekten

Pisa, a new education center in exposed reinforced concrete
Edited By Editorial Staff -

The University of Pisa’s new teaching center immediately stands out from the surrounding buildings. The complex has been named “San Rossore 1938,” after the estate in Pisa where, on September 5, 1938, King Vittorio Emanuele III signed the first declaration on race. The building, designed by Heliopolis 21, was conceived as a place where the principle of historical justice can be freely celebrated. Comprising flexible, multifunctional spaces designed for training analytical, critical, and free minds, the complex is also a response to a  – from reclamation to external work – that has become a case study for public buildings with almost zero emissions.

 

Exposed reinforced concrete and a mixed geothermal system

With a gross project area of 32,754 square feet (3043 m2) and a built volume of 462 thousand cubic feet (13,082 m3), the center is home to the university’s humanities and biology departments. It’s located on the corner of Via Risorgimento and Via Nicola Pisano, in an area that, as mentioned above, has undergone extensive regeneration. The building consists of four interconnected volumes, each one a different height and each with distinct functions. They house the humanities classrooms, an entrance vestibule, an auditorium, and the biology labs. The building envelope, which has a structural function, is exposed reinforced concrete made with a mixture of aggregates and built on site using formwork with climbing platforms and an internal phenolic panel so as to make the surface even for subsequent casting cycles. The concrete was finally sandblasted, cleaned back, and treated with a protective anti-graffiti finish.

A feature of the project is its innovative mixed geothermal system. Comprising two geothermal production wells and one reinjection well integrated with thirty-eight probes, the system provides summer cooling and winter heating while reducing energy consumption and the thermal dispersion of the building to the maximum, and optimizing the internal microclimate.

 

Continuity between indoors and outdoors

Although different from the surrounding buildings, the center is an elegant and respectful addition to the street. The large window on Via Risorgimento keeps a watchful eye on passers-by, at whom the events staged in the auditorium are aimed. There’s no inside and outside; more of a sharing of spaces, as seen in the entrance and the large public square, which is covered but open to the whole local community, thus forming a point of connection between Via Risorgimento and the center’s internal garden.

Designed with flexibility so that it can adapt to different needs in the future, the building has a functional resilience. The center is one of a kind. This is reflected in the elimination of all superfluous decorations to achieve both cost savings and optimize the life cycle and embodied energy. It’s also shown by the awareness of social values and justice behind the project, which commemorates events linked to Italy’s racial laws and has been named to reflect the University of Pisa’s commitment to social justice made on the occasion of the 80th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration on Race.

Credits

Location: Pisa
Completion date: 2020
Site area: 4.174 m2
Project by: Diener & Diener Architekten, Heliopolis 21 Architetti Associati
Photos by: Andrea Testi, courtesy of Heliopolis 21

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#Pisa  #Italy  #Reinforced concrete  #Education  #Europe  #2021  #Heliopolis 21  #Diener & Diener Architekten  #Italian Architecture 

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