University halls of residence - Aarchitects
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University halls of residence

Aarchitects

Edited By Francesco Pagliari - 1 May 2013
The Grazie halls of residence are in the old heart of Udine, near the castle, right next to the famous old cloister and the Basilica of the Blessed Virgin of Grace. The restoration and refurbishment of these halls, along with the addition of a new building, form part of a larger project to restore 1950s and 60s buildings designed by the architect Luciano Ria. The edifices created by Ria housed students and lodgings for young priests as well as being used for a number of other educational and parish activities. The whole project is an essential part of actively and progressively ensuring the centre remains a lively, central point in the city. The creation of student housing, with single and double rooms, common areas and a conference room along with the significant amount of work needed to transform the old Roma cinema into a 300-seater auditorium are meant to help conserve functions that are vital for the old centre.
The project lasted from 2007 to 2011 and involved a careful examination of the courtyard space created by Luciano Ria's buildings, which have a clear rationalist imprint influenced by the ideas about expression that emerged in the post-war period. Ria's use of composition and expression was safeguarded by carefully restoring the north and south facades of the student halls on Via Pracchiuso, where the key compositional elements are the horizontal face brick sections, the bands of reinforced concrete, the continuous glazing and the transom band. The restoration of the partitions was flanked by the transformation of the top of the building following the creation of a common room, with an upper band of large windows. Rationalism guided the organisation of the single and double student rooms (including those for disabled students), focusing on acoustic insulation between rooms and between the rooms and the central corridor.
The building adjacent to the cloister with its north elevation overlooking the courtyard was partially demolished and rebuilt as well as being altered. The elevations are reinterpreted and given a formal, sculpted sense that highlights the angular theatrical "wings" along the facade. This succession of vertical elements determines the rhythm, but they are not merely components of the facade as they appear to stand just in front of it. The auditorium was at the core of the project and required radical transformation work. The result was a multi-purpose hall - theatre, concert venue, cinema - without any internal pillars and walls that provide insulation, fireproofing and decoration. The creation of this hall also necessitated the addition of a new volume, namely the longitudinal building housing the foyer that is right against the main building. The dominant feature is the rising canopy, accompanied by a smaller prism that resembles a "lantern". The architectural reinforced concrete provides further accents and creates a degree of compositional distance between the foyer and the restored/altered buildings that lends the new volume a sense of independence.
Francesco Pagliari