Ex area Fiat residential complex

Florence - Italy / 2001
Architecture, Private

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The former Fiat area in Novoli, northwest quadrant of Florence, has been since the eighties subject of a complex recovery program on which many international architects have worked according to Leon Krier’s master plan which set the building criteria and rules organized around the redesign of the traditional block. Within this plan, later developed by Gabetti and Isola, Archea, on behalf of the Novoli property company that manages the development program, has realized over the years, three different design solutions. The first regards a lot situated in the immediate vicinity of the Palace of Justice and dedicated to offices, the second and third options are on a different lot, overlooking the new San Donato park, meant for residences. All three projects adhere to the common rules that provide a ground floor for shops, pitched roof, mainly vertical rectangular windows, and the use of traditional ceramic or stone covering materials for exterior surfaces. In the first, the interpretation of the local architectural character is translated into a single body carved out through the special excavation of the volume that transforms the office building into a “virtual” placement of blocks characterized by a consistent urban dimension. This strategy is designed to identify, in the one building block, several sub-buildings, covered by a pitched awning, without indulging in the vernacular medieval-looking plan suggested by Krier. The single material volume proposes an unusual planimetric reading of the whole offered by the high view of the building possible from the windows of the above Palace of Justice. The roofing is consequently interpreted as an elevation, treated with the same cladding (red Persian travertine in an early version, then terracotta in a second one) of the vertical surfaces, where the windows are simple openings positioned in order to lighten the building’s overall mass. The second project for the Novoli area, lies in a different lot that opens onto the park and is characterized by the invention of a public path derived from the feet of three monolithic blocks in which the starting residential block is subdivided. The project is conceived of like an act of material excavation, the placing together of three different rocky elements that flank the park: the result is a multi-faceted volume onto which cuts and ravines open. The plastic strength of the stone-covered mass, utilized to interpret, once again, the local building tradition, is relieved by alternating color plates that make up the surfaces, both from the loggia openings topped by a copper clad roof, folded like an origami in its different roof pitches. The third proposal, which is in fact a substantial variation of the second project, located temporally at a later phase realizing the section in which some areas located near the edge of the road are finished and the complection of the park that constitutes the prerequisite for the place’s effective livability. The new building does not try to superficially or formalistically reclaim a connection with the nineteenth century city, nor least of all with the poetic visions of an “outside the town” landscape, showing instead a single and real interest thematicized in the opening of the building onto the park. The project consequently develops according to a traditional “C” or open court pattern so as to express outwardly, meaning toward the adjacent street from the lot-block, a stereometric vision represented through stone elevations, serial and closed, while, towards the inner courtyard, that “watches” the green, the building offers a more domestic building size that appears organized and variegated in a spontaneous placement of different architectural elements, like starting from the inside of traditional urban blocks. Here the living areas on different levels face toward the open landscape through large windows – framed in a continuous wood covering like in a sort of finely designed piece of furniture – and cantilevered loggias. At the summit, it recovers both the traditional type of pitched roof, as well as the modern flat roof, that engage each other at the roofline, an alternating series of visual “telescopes”, also at double height, which, alternating the recesses and jutting volumes identifies a sequence of small private gardens and livable terraces.

ProgramResidential complex
LocationFlorence - Italy
PurchaserImmobiliare Novoli S.p.A.
Price€ 6.000.000
Terrain Surface4.500 mq
Volume14.000 mc