The new provincial centre for the Italian Cancer League in Biella is both symbolically and socially important in the fight against this disease and in supporting patients, through prevention and care. It is also a place for medical consultation and psychological support, along with offering physical rehab facilities. The design is an extremely accessible, open space, built for convenience and efficiency, including in energy use (with insulation and cutting-edge technical equipment). It is also a place with a clear architectural identity, a centre that offers people and associations spaces for meeting and working.
The design meets these multiple needs. The building has a powerful visual impact, with a structure that is clearly recognisable to create an evident geographical and social reference point for the area.
The complex consists of two main volumes connected by a short structure with glazed walls that overlooks, to the north and south, the lawns around the complex. This glazed connecting section is the entrance hall and lobby providing access to the different parts of the centre. The upper floor of this section also has a common area to enjoy a break. The centrality ensures it is easily accessible from most parts of the complex. The flooring on the ground floor further enhances this sense of centrality as the stone tiles are laid in concentric circles, radiating out from the central lobby towards the wings, with the two colours used for the tiles creating a powerful, dynamic pattern.
The functional division of space in the two sections is evident, with areas dedicated to prevention (ground floor of the west-facing building), areas for administrative and communication activities (east-facing volume), with variously-sized meeting rooms, a section for physical rehab and the security guard's quarters (in the western building).
The distinctive nature of the complex comes from, to differing degrees, the uses of a series of elements, especially the curved shape of the main volumes that suggest a new approach between indoor areas and the related spaces outside. The layout, both functional and formal, also plays a role in making the complex easily identifiable. Screening for the external longitudinal walls of both volumes is another key element, used on both volumes, facing east and west. The choice of red and white picks up the traditional colours of the Italian Cancer League, while also providing the necessary protection from the sun and the required privacy. Consequently, the weave of cotto tiles becomes more or less intense, depending on how much privacy is required. The differentiated "density" of the screening on the walls, the contrasting colours, and the shiny enamelled cotto, which shines in the light, clearly show the dynamism of this new centre. It becomes the positive, emotional symbol for a place that sets itself high social standards, focusing prevention, care and patient support, offering them a place where hope and comfort truly belong.
Location: Biella Province, Italy
Client: LILT – Lega Italiana Lotta ai Tumori
Gross Floor Area: 2.784 m2
Cost of Construction: 4.500.000 Euros
Architects: Ottavio Di Blasi & Partners
Design Team: Ottavio Di Blasi, Marzia Roncoroni, Emanuel Pozzoni, Mark Baquir
Works Management: Generoso De Rienzo
Contractor: Ronchetta & C.
Structural: HPDB - Davide Besana
Technical Systems: Riva Ingegneria - Ing. Claudio Riva, S.T.A.P.I
Façade: Palagio Engineering
Door and Window Frames: Schüco
Photography (1-9): © Beppe Raso
OTTAVIO DI BLASI AND PARTNERS
Ottavio Di Blasi & Partners is an architectural studio based in Milan. Ottavio Di Blasi has been one of the closest collaborators of Renzo Piano for 10 years. In 1988, he started his own studio with Paolo Simonetti and Daniela Tortello. Since 2010, Ottavio Di Blasi is the Technical Director of the company and since 2015 he is Tutor at G124 group coordinated by Senator for Life Renzo Piano dedicated to the study of Italian Suburbs.
The practice has an extensive international experience and its design approach is not based on a strict sectorial specialization; on the contrary, it often arises from the contamination from the knowledge from other fields. This attitude takes the studio to practice in a wide range of fields including Urban design and master planning Building Rehabilitation, Public buildings, Social and private housing, Sport Facilities, Commercial and Mixed Use, Tourism and Hospitality, Temporary Architecture.
Among the studio’s built projects are: Spazio LILT (Biella 2016) – Camus Università del Piemonte Orientale (Novara 2016) – Patek Philippe Pavilion ( Basel 2014) – Visitor Center at Sicily Rome American Cementery (Nettuno 2014) - Ohene Djan Stadium (Accra 2007) – Glass walkways for Aquileia’s Basilic ( Aquileia 1999) - Gorée Memorial (Dakar 1998).