Palazzo Fanzago is in the heart of Padua, a stone's throw from the cathedral and sections of the university along a portico-lined street that was once a Roman Decumanus. The building itself is a grand structure, with 18th-century origins. Damage suffered during World War II was fixed by refurbishment work in the early 1950s. The bombing had created an empty space on the eastern side of Palazzo Fanzago, but this has been filled with a high-quality exposed brick edifice set back from the road and surrounded by a lovely garden. Modern arches, supported by brick pillars, were used to rebuild the destroyed arcade, ensuring continuity with the remaining structures and integrating into the area, without pretending to be part of the original.
The restoration of Palazzo Fanzago, built by one of Padua's best known noble families, focused on highlighting the historical traits, while integrating technological solutions to improve living comfort. The interior was reorganised to give it a contemporary quality overhaul.
The façade on Via del Vescovado is listed, imposing strict restrictions on any work and requiring special care and traditional artisan skills for the stone sections and decorations, the parapets and the small columns of the upper-floor balconies.
The vehicle entrance and the pedestrian access are separate, but open onto the public space under the portico. The car section leads through a long corridor that opens into a courtyard, with a driveway across this lawn space to the garages. The building housing the garages on the ground floor has a living unit on the first floor. Significant work was done here, changing the arrangement of the existing building and a secondary building, added during the 1950s restoration, but leaving the original shape and volume unaltered. The project focused on a highly expressive composition for this living unit, which seems to be a house tucked away in a courtyard, fiercely guarding its privacy. Access to the unit is via a lateral staircase and, inside, the living room and bedroom are next to each other, on the side of the façade that overlooks the courtyard through large windows. The elevation is clad with light coloured stainless steel panels, adding quite a striking element to the architecture. On the ground and first floors, excluding the entrance to the house, a light-coloured metal mesh regulates the light, creating a sense of transparency while also providing privacy and protection. These folding panels slide open towards the sides and the centre, making it possible to adjust the intensity of the light and form changing geometrical patterns on the façade. The top floor is a terrace, where the curved Cor-ten screens skilfully hide technical installations and equipment.
The whole restoration project for Palazzo Fanzago was guided by a few key elements. First, the design maintains the vertical connection at the centre of the building, keeping the stone staircase and adding a lift, with glazed booth and doors. Secondly, quality craftsmanship was essential in the arrangement of the interiors of all six living units in the historical part of the building. Equal importance was placed on producing a detailed design for the creation of spaces that could truly be lived in. Both these aspects clearly indicate a subtle ability to interpret architecture as a transformation in which the new is integrated into the old. This balance between the old building and sensitive, careful contemporary living is achieved by recovering materials, revitalising the building, carefully creating distinctions between the living units (the first floor, with the four small balconies, houses a single apartment with a notable terrazzo floor), identifying elements that improve living comfort (the two units on the top floor are duplex apartments, with plenty of space to study and relax), and arranging the internal façade with sober simplicity.
Location: Padua Province, Italy
Client: Il Decumano
Gross Floor Area: 580 m2
Architects: Bruno Stocco Architetto
Design Team: Valentina Cadamuro, Alessandra Salvalajo, Beatrice Borghi, Sabrina Cagnin architetti, Stocco Francesca
Works Management: Bruno Stocco Architetto
Contractor: Impresa Costruzioni Edili Salvalajo Giuseppe Loreggia
Structural: Mario Fiscon
Mechanical installations: Prisma Engineering
Electrical installations: Simone Ceccato
Doors and Windows: Falegnameria Roncato
Iron Work: Piovanello
Marble and Stone: Menini Ruggero, Ballaustra Danilo
Photography: © Bruno Stocco Architetto, Stancanelli Claudia Architetto
Bruno Stocco Architetto
Bruno Stocco was born in Camposampiero (Padua), where he operates his practice today. After completing his secondary education at the Pietro Selvatico school for the visual and design arts, he graduated in architecture from the IUAV in Venice in 1980, where he studied with Carlo Scarpa. His thesis, supervised by Valeriano Pastor, dealt with Padua’s Prato della Valle square.
His professional career has included ongoing participation in conferences and discussions about land conservation, the publication of articles, and the study of the ancient and sacred architecture of Padua’s hinterland. Highlights include La tradizione e la cultura della casa nell'alto padovano (The tradition and culture of the house in the Alto Padovano area), with a forward by Mario Botta. A key focus of Stocco’s work is the restoration of classified historic buildings, which he performs in collaboration with the relative authorities. On behalf of the Padua Order of Architects, he has also supervised courses in restoration, including the setting up of workshops.
Stocco’s work has been featured in numerous articles and journals, including, Il restauro della Cattedrale di Padova (The restoration of Padua Cathedral – published by Skira), a project that earned a mention in the Marble Architectural Award 2000 Italy for the restoration of the presbytery, and in the Vicenza-based Koine award prize for the design of the pews; La Fornace Morandi di Padova, processo di restauro e metodologia di recupero (Padua’s Morandi factory: the restoration process and methods), which was a finalist in the 2012 Brik Award; Panorama Italiano n. 2 (published by The Plan) has featured two of his designs, which also appeared in the books Novecento Architetture e Città del Veneto (20th century architecture and the cities of Veneto) and PIRUEA nel Veneto (Integrated urban, building and environmental redevelopment programmes in the Veneto Region), both published by the Veneto Region.