Torino || Italy
The 19th and 20th centuries often saw the building of multipurpose structures, especially in the first wave of urban expansion outside old town centres, to cater for the space craftsmen needed to live, work and store materials, tools and finished products. Today, such complexes can still be found, often characterised by courtyards surrounded by multipurpose volumes. However, as the productive uses of such artisan workshops have fallen away, they have needed to be revamped and given new purposes. This is a not an insignificant problem that architects have had to face, not only because of aesthetics, but also since the size of such complexes is often prohibitive to finding a cost effective new use and a way to exploit their potential.
It was precisely this issue and challenge that Raimondo Guidacci grappled with when he designed this residence
with a new concept of living space. In essence, this design provides a synthetic approach to identify the values underlying the transformation that can help produce quality architecture inside a courtyard surrounded by existing buildings. Caboto 26, located in the heart of Turin, could very well provide a model for dealing with the volumes of two such modest buildings. In more concrete terms, the challenge was to transform an old carpentry workshop and storage area into an innovative residential unit. This necessitated selecting ways of living that would optimise the limited living space, while adding subtle contemporary touches through the use of materials to give the new volumes their own identity. At the same time, the idea was to ensure the units helped visually upgrade the entire complex.
Unity was the underlying notion
for revamping the two buildings, both by physically creating connections and by drawing visual parallels through external appearance. One volume has two double-storey residential units with an internal staircase. The top floor has a bedroom with fixed furnishings, while the lower floor has the living and kitchen area, bathrooms and a small laundry room. Four dormer windows and skylights embellish the sloping roof and provide light to the upper floor. The residential units are small, but space is used simply and carefully. For example, a mezzanine level/studio opens onto the living and kitchen area for one of the two units. The other building, standing perpendicular to the first one but separated from it by a small space that could be used for parking, can be used as a garage or a storage space.
The living space, against the perimeter
wall, has clearly contrasting sections. On the lower level, on the southern facade, black metal sheets are used, while on the western side, the lower section consists of six glazed full-height doors separated by okumé multi-layer wood with horizontal staves. The sliding doors have okumé sliding shutters that can, potentially, block out the light almost completely and give this section a real horizontal sense. The upper section of the building and the roof are clad in Rheinzink panels with vertical joints. A black iron girder separates the two sections, acting both as a stringcourse and, in combination with the uprights, forming a frame for the lower section of this facade. The "utilities" building is conceptually linked to the other volume through similar wooden panelling as well as being physically connected by an iron beam that extends
to intersect with the living unit at a right angle. The roof is a large terrace with a wooden floor. It can be reached via an elegant metal staircase with a parapet of fine wire mesh that then extends to form the perimeter of the terraced roof.
The use of elegant architectural solutions redesigns these old functional workshops and turns them into high quality residential units in an otherwise standard courtyard.
Gross Floor Area: 110 m2
Architect: Raimondo Guidacci
Design Team: Roberto Spigarolo, Giancarlo Ambu
Works Management: Raimondo Guidacci
Luserna Stone Paving Cubes in Courtyard: Pavesmac
Zinc-Titanium Roofing: Rheinzink
Photography: © Beppe Giardino
Raimondo Guidacci (Foggia 1968) graduated in architecture at the Venice IUAV (under Carlo Magnani). At the same time he passed out of the Benedetto Marcello Conservatoire of Music.
In 1996 he opened a professional practice at Orsara in Puglia and in 1998 at Turin. From 1995 to 2005 he teamed up with Emanuele Levi Montalcini at the Turin Polytechnic Architecture Faculty, Architectural Design Laboratories, where he was assistant to Guido Martinero from 1996 to 1999.
Some of his works have been featured in specialist journals and awarded prizes in architecture, including certain exhibitions and shows. Publications of note: the Casabella Almanacchi; the book edited by Marco Mulazzani Italian Architects, the new generation, published by Electa in 2006; as well as specialist reviews like The Plan, Abitare, Costruire, D’Architettura, C3.
His plan for two houses in Puglia was picked for the Cosenza Award 2004 and the Barbara Cappochin Award 2007 in the category of “best international works”; it won the INARCH/ANCE prize 2008 for the category “work by a young professional”; it was an architecture prize-winner at the Premio di architettura per la Capitanata 2010 awarded by the Roll of Architects for the Province of Foggia.
He alternates in his professional practice between his native Puglia and Piemonte where he now lives.