Projects

Chiesa della Misericordia - Terranuova Bracciolini (Arezzo)

Porcelain tiles that define the architecture

The project by Archea Associati for the local Brotherhood of Mercy has created a new association headquarters and a farewell room that can be used for many of the client's activities
Author
Laura Milan
Architect
Archea Associati
Surfaces
TAGINA
Year of completion
2015

Construction of the small Cappella della Misericordia in Terranuova Bracciolini, a town with a population of just over 12,000 people in the central Italian province of Arezzo, is part of a broader project carried out by Florence-based practice Archea Associati on behalf of a major local client, the Venerabile Confraternita della Misericordia (Venerable Brotherhood of Mercy), which needed a new headquarters capable of providing a wide range of services for the local community.
The project reflects the founding spirit of a Catholic association whose history is rooted in the 19th century and carries out voluntary work in keeping with the principles of Christian charity. Although now part of the larger Confederazione Nazionale delle Misericordie d’Italia (National Confederation of the Brotherhoods of Mercy of Italy), it was founded in 1855 and since then has maintained a constant presence in Terranuova Bracciolini. In 1928 the town acquired its first ambulance and began to carry out local solidarity projects such as the construction of a small hospital, which was completed in 1914, and a health centre built on the site of the historic hospital in 1950. Today’s activities range from health services (emergency assistance in collaboration with the 118 emergency services, first aid courses, ambulance transport of people, organs and blood), to social services (transport of the disabled, helpline services and a debt counselling centre), as well as a Christian funeral service.
To meet the demands of the Brotherhood, the complex designed by the practice led by Marco Casamonti consists of a new operational centre and a Chapel that was opened in late 2015. It stands next the road leading into the town and occupies a long, narrow rectangular site about 2,000 m2 in size. United underground by a basement housing storerooms, technical rooms and a covered garage for ambulances and service vehicles, the operational centre and the Chapel are part of a single unit characterised by formal and volumetric consistency and in scale with the surrounding urban fabric.
The association’s headquarters is a small but distinctive two-floor building with an irregular floor plan, from which openings lead behind it to the Chapel occupying the rear of the site away from the road. A small volume dominated by the bell tower, the interior of the Chapel consists of a double-height hall with altar, accessible from the main entrance which in turn opens onto the external area carved out from the perimeters of the two buildings. There are also two private, secluded funeral spaces, with access from the side of the building and communicating with the hall. Just like the Brotherhood’s headquarters, the Chapel also has an irregular floor plan with the two entrances located inside niches and recesses hollowed out from the east and north façades.
Porcelain tile played a key role in the design and construction of the Cappella della Misericordia of Terranuova Bracciolini, and serves as a defining element of the architecture. Specially developed as a partnership between Archea Associati and Tagina, a virtually continuous surface of hexagonal tiles covers almost the entire exterior surface. It extends over the complex geometry of the roof and differentiates the Chapel from the nearby headquarters, enhancing its durability while adopting the same formal approach. Consisting of hexagonal prismatic elements of side length 19.5 cm, the Esagona glazed porcelain tiles are glued onto perforated metal panels that form the ventilated façade. Alternating three-dimensional and flat elements united by pigmented silicone joints, it creates a unified but vibrant exterior whose appearance changes according to the incident light.

Tiles
Tagina, Esagona 3D
Type
porcelain stoneware
Sizes
19,5 cm (esagona 3D)
Colours
custom
Technical characteristics
Water absorpion (ISO 10545-3): ≤ 0,2%
Chemical resistance (ISO 10545-13): GA GLA GHA
Stain resistance (ISO 10545-14): conforme
Frost resistance (ISO 10545-12): conforme
Thermal shock resistance (ISO 10545-9): conforme
Crazing resistance (ISO 10545-11): conforme
Linear thermal expansion (ISO 10545-8): conforme
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