Urban colour therapy
If writing creates new worlds, then the project by architect Luca Moretto is a sophisticated three-dimensional composition that walks a delicate balance between an enlightened client on the one hand and a rather unusual breed of architect on the other: the kind of architect who, to obtain a minimum of creative freedom, is prepared to choose his clients rather than the other way round. The project we look at here concerns the expansion and remodelling of the San Paolo section of Renato Einaudi University College in Turin. Originally built between the late 1950s and the 1960s, the complex has an L-shaped layout with the shorter side rotated slightly inwards.
The alterations concern the redistribution of the internal spaces and the introduction of new functional solutions, such as the construction of a panoramic lift in a transparent tower and the creation of outdoor spaces.
The refurbishing work extended over a total floor area of around 8,000 square metres on all floors of the building, from the basement level to the attic spaces, and involved remodelling 165 student rooms. The musical score on which the project was written proved inadequate for the task, and the composition ended up overflowing, creating a magnificent three-dimensional symphony with thrilling tonal highlights (the strongly projecting terraces) that interact with the city through the outward projection of internal spaces. The terraces are supported by an irregular metallic framework that appears to evoke the poetic vision of expressionist scaffolding or an architectural interpretation of Michelangelo’s concept of the « non finito ».
Like authentic spatial events, the interiors consist of a polyhedral sequence of concave and convex surfaces that warp the original box-like shape and provide distribution routes that offer perspective views distorted by multidirectional vanishing points leading towards an imaginary external urban space. Perception of the environment is like an existential moment immersed in a continuous stream of emotions. The strongly theatrical nature of the interiors is enhanced by the use of ceramic tiles from Vogue’s Interni series, which introduce a wealth of iridescent colour effects. The result is a strangely disjointed sensation, as for example in the corridor of the so-called « yellow floor » where the colour is projected from the floors and walls. One of the most striking highlights (which Luca Moretto refers to as « events ») is the landing of the new panoramic lift constructed on one side of the south facade.