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Psychiatric Center and Sheltered Housing

MoDus Architects

Psychiatric Center and Sheltered Housing
By Conrad-Bercah -

A psychiatric day hospital is an unusual theme for an architecture office. Sandy Attia and Matteo Scagnol (MoDusArchitects) have tackled it in what may arguably be the only possible way: making the building look like a big comfortable house.

Located at the heart of a consolidated residential district of Bolzano called Gries, the complex blends with its surroundings in appropriate chromatic fashion, using the neighborhood’s characteristic earth-based color palette. The same color flows into the internal outdoor spaces and the interiors, providing the backdrop for the custom-made furniture and millwork designed to create a serene atmosphere for all users - doctors and staff as well as patients.

Looking at the plan, the architects’ intentions are immediately apparent: to design a shell, well defined at its borders, yet permeable to the outside and the elements. The shell comprises two different blocks, or sections: a rectangular section housing offices, and facing it, a second - bent - residential block for patients and social activities. Taken together, the two elements seem to form an arrow. Unlike other hospitals, there is no sign here of double-loaded corridors. On the contrary, the two blocks are separated by a courtyard. At the same time though, they are linked by a series of bridges of variable geometry, creating an outdoor recreational area that in section contracts and expands as if it were a secluded private belly yet inundated with light and fresh air. Structurally, the bridges perform a tie beam function allowing significant overhangs on the other volume comprising a set of parametrically arranged box elements. The deepest cantilever - 7 meters - forms a long canopy over the entrance that serves to blur the boundary between the public and semi-public parts.

Matteo Scagnol describes this approach as the typical modus operandi of the practice, and its penchant for doing things with...

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