Opening on December 2010, Falcognana Elderly Centre is part of an urban redevelopment on the outskirts of Rome; besides it, the intervention involves a central square with a children playground, a green square, a park with sport facilities, micro gardens and walkways.
ln such a peripheral location, the public building responses to the will/need of elderly local residents to spend their free time together and supports their strong sense of community.
The main design idea is to create an open building, where inside and outside space are constantly relating to each other, establishing an open dialogue between nature and architecture, since, as a matter of fact, the site is at the edge between an irregular high density residential texture and the rich countryside surrounding it. The context for the project is both a human and a natural one.
Moreover it aims to keep the strong natural character of the place and to build a public facility which is able to qualify the entire built agglomeration and to organize its active social life.
The elderly centre consists simply into two big spaces, which are divided by a glass wall, with a difference of 1,05 m between the rooms’ floors. Services are on the upper part, where also the main entrance is located. Total interior surface is ca. 400 sqm.
The building envelope’s geometry consists in a wrapping device. A continuous system allows to forget the traditional reference of enfolding for an architecture of becoming, where superimposition of plans is replaced by surfaces’ continuity. The V-shaped concrete elements sprout up from the ground, like roots, and turn into beams of the roof slab, while various transparencies of glass define a protected enclosure below.
The materiality of the glass skin is declined from translucent industrial cast U-glass to full-high transparent cuts, sometimes with glass doors, which drug nature into the building and make sun filtering through, constantly changing the interior lighting during the day. The glass façade overlooking the countryside panorama creates a permanent contact with the landscape, from an inclusive place, which is thought itself as a fragment of nature’s complexity.The green resinous coatings on concrete flooring establishes a chromatic continuity with the meadow outside.
Structure defines architecture and its language in its purest form. The intention is to employ a material that is widely used in construction in Italy, but trying to turn it into a form of expression, by way of a simple construction system and the use of colour. The achieve is a crude, almost brutal, effect that emphasizes its material quality. Concrete is coloured with red pigment - a color which is very typical for the Roman countryside buildings - in the mixture to get an homogeneous material to mould.
The three pairs of rhomboidal section inclined vertical columns are the building’s distinctive features. Starting from the same point on the ground two by two, they open up and fold becoming beams of the roof slab; in-between the pairs of beams, steel cables allow vegetation to grow, creating a protected porch between the main building and the square. These beams outline a geometric grid, characterizing both roof horizontal surfaces, by way of their red color but also through a small intrados relief (6 cm). The roof slab is supported punctually at each beam intersection vertex by steel columns.
Outer public and semi-private spaces adjoining the building, as well as its interior, are conceived as an extension of domestic space, hosting the spontaneous social initiatives of the inhabitants. As in the local practice of use of land, countryside and urbanity merge together, for an ecologic conversion of territory into a living landscape.