Innovation and continuity: the new University of Florence campus
reading time: 4 minutes
Two residential buildings with a precise, sleek design intended for students: a 45-metre tower, completely covered with a ceramic mosaic custom-made for the project, and a lower linear structure. Designed by Ipostudio Architetti, the project aimed to achieve seamless integration with the existing context and openness to the landscape, while placing emphasis on light in the interiors.
It is a new landmark for the city of Florence. There is a new campus for students located in the university area between Viale Morgagni and the Terzolle stream, in the north of the city. Designed by Ipostudio Architetti, it is situated within the already existing “Casa dello studente Calamandrei”, built in the ’70s.
In designing the Campus project, one of the main goals of Ipostudio – a team of architects based in Florence, associated since 1984 and focused on civil works, urban redevelopment and reuse of monumental buildings – was to aim to achieve seamless integration, without interruptions, in the Careggi university area. At the same time, however: “we sought to establish new relationships with the skyline of the four towers of the Calamandrei, a historical symbol of this area, aiming to create a single large campus,” remarks Ipostudio’s founding partner, Carlo Terpolilli.
The result is two residences open to the urban landscape and characterized by a precise, sleek design: a 45-metre 14-storey tower, which houses up to 234 students and gives the skyline a distinctly more contemporary appearance, and a lower 5-storey residential structure, with a total of 121 beds, located along the Terzolle, and used for the DSU (Diritto allo Studio Universitario, student support) facility. The tower and the wing of the DSU residence facing the square are completely covered by the white chips of a glass mosaic, custom-made for the project and spread over more than 7,000 square meters of surface. The use of mosaic as cladding is a popular trend in modern Italian architecture: “The choice of ceramic material for the cladding stems from a desire to give the buildings a metaphysical, multifaceted look that can change with the slightest variation of light during both day and night, making the tower a recognizable landmark in the city,” explains Terpolilli.
A peculiar aspect of the new buildings’ architecture is the key role played by the large windows: “they are bow windows which, on the outside, on the facades with their severe design, create a dynamic movement while, on the inside, they define and characterize the space of the rooms, transforming them into luminous areas that open up to the landscape,” continues Terpolilli. The large windows thus become furnishing accessories, or rather, support structures, for books and useful objects for students. From the rooms of both buildings, as well as from the panoramic terrace on the top storey of the tower, you can enjoy an extraordinary view of the landscape, both towards the city with the cathedral dome in the centre and towards the surrounding hills.
Ph Pietro Savorelli