University hall of residence in Novoli, Florence, Italy

The students’ university housing in the former Fiat area at Novoli, Florence, was designed to adapt to the constraints of the brief - the perimeter of the lot, the alignment, the building height - and to use them as a spring¬board for original compositional and typological solutions that have produced a articulated, light-filled interior landscape inside severe walls. Despite the double-courtyard layout the building is far from inward-looking and imposes order on the wider context: the pas¬sageway that cuts crosswise through it is seen as a city gate, a way through the block and a focus for communal activities, as well as access to the students lodgings. The twin themes of urban silence and constructed mass, borrowed from historical citys fabric but updated to reflect todays different formal and plastic awareness, are evident on the solid though not im¬penetrable exterior facades. The continuous reinforced concrete base, grey wood shingles and glass-brick fascia are - of course - silent, evenly-coloured, unbroken surfaces but they are al¬so loaded with positive vibes and nuancing ready to be transmitted to the interior. It is here that the building reveals the extent to which the elementary mass visible from the street is in fact a complex structure whose layout, planimetric variations and deviations of section gener¬ate a lean-looking though atmospheric interior of raw concrete streaked by form work and in some places deeply gouged. Understanding the buildings functional layout - shops, entrance and refectory on the ground floor; study rooms and services on the upper levels facing the principal street and lodgings (for 250 students) in the other three blocks - explains the layout of the ex¬ternal facades, and indicates how the kinds of materials used are related to the amount of light that reaches the interior. The students bedrooms (two types) are the outcome of painstaking typological research - the carefully calculated interlocking of reduced surfaces looks like a modern-day shot at existenzminimum - and successfully reconcile external balcony access with dual exposure towards the street, behind the shingle screen, and the internal courtyards with their coloured walls and quiet gardens.
The halls of residence are typologically hybrid, with balcony access and dual exposure. The standard lodging comprises an entrance hall with a large window opening onto the access balcony, two bedrooms (18 sqm) and two bathrooms; a third bedroom (12 sqm), also with a bathroom, is situated towards the balcony and 80 cm higher to prevent passers-by from looking in. A second standard lodging has a communal area facing the balcony and at the same height, instead of the third bedroom.



Client: Immobiliare Novoli s.p.a.
Floor area: 7.690 m2

Architects and art directors: C+S Associati, Carlo Cappai, Maria Alessandra Segantini
Structures, installation and work supervision: Fiat Engineering s.p.a.


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