A new lease of life for a former Salesian school in Lanzo Torinese
The new Collegio San Filippo Neri retirement home in Lanzo Torinese, designed by Picco Architects for the Santa Croce Group, stands out in particular for two aspects. Firstly, it develops a building typology that is in urgent need of improvement in Italy in terms of architectural quality and spaces, performance and formulas. Secondly, it takes an existing historical building and adds new contemporary volumes to create adequate space for the new functions.
A former religious complex on the summit of Mount Buriasco in a small town in the hills about 40 km from Turin formed the original nucleus of a modern residential home for elderly people, whether self-sufficient or requiring care. Originally built in 1864 as a boarding school, it was the first major project launched by the Salesians of Don Bosco outside the confines of the regional capital and continued to operate until 1997.
The new residence retains the features of the imposing original complex: the school itself which occupied the 70×24 metre L-shaped four-storey building; the church designed by Crescentino Caselli with a distinctive eclectic façade dominating the hilltop; and behind it the volumes that once housed the members of the religious congregation.
The external area has been completely redesigned, while the main entrance has been highlighted by the presence of a distinctive new metallic gateway at the foot of the steps leading from the low building to the churchyard.
A new volume with a completely transparent multifaceted façade has been built at the intersection between the two wings of the former school. Supported by a series of V-shaped metal columns, on all floors it houses some of the new common areas overlooking the mountain landscape at the entrance to the Lanzo Valleys. The new volume stands juxtaposed against the original facade, whose ground floor arcade formerly opened onto the inner courtyard but is now closed off by a continuous window.
In order to adapt to the new functions, the project had to overcome the rigidity of the complex’s internal layout. The architects succeeded masterfully in creating 100 rooms for residents among the rigid nineteenth-century load-bearing structures, distributing them over all the existing floors along with the spaces for medical and nursing staff, dining rooms, gyms and lounges. The ground floor houses the reception, administration offices, other common rooms and service areas not open to the public.
For this new use the interior finishing materials needed to combine durability and ease of cleaning with aesthetic appeal, prompting the designers to choose from the wide range of products offered by Ceramiche Keope. Large size tiles from the Code collection (30×120 cm, colour Taupe) are used on the floors in the main entrance and the access courtyard, where they contrast with the more traditional porphyry blocks. Inside the building, the material chosen for the guest rooms and ground-floor common areas is the Elements Design resin-effect line (120×120 cm) in the same Taupe colour tone, which coordinates effectively with the original colours of the façades and finishes.
Cristiano Picco described the specific characteristics of the building and of a restoration and change-of-use project that had a significant impact on the urban context: «In the former Salesian school complex in Lanzo Torinese, the composite and often conflicting characteristics of the architecture as a combination of individual and civic values have been successfully resolved in an extraordinary sequence of historical stratifications. In the continuous dialectic between conservation and innovation, tradition and new social needs, the renovation of the complex with new collective functions restores its key role within the urban fabric. The project reaffirms and enhances the construction principles, the access routes and the extraordinary views offered by the complex.»
The opening of the «Collegio San Filippo Neri» retirement home following its completion in 2019 concluded the first step in the operation. In the next step, the spaces of the former Salesian religious residence will be converted to social housing.
Ceramiche Keope, Code and Elements Design
Water absorpion (ISO 10545-3): <0,1 %
Chemical resistance (ISO 10545-13): compliant
Resistance to deep abrasion (ISO 10545-6): < 150 mm
Stain resistance (ISO 10545-14): compliant
Frost resistance (ISO 10545-12): compliant
Modulus of rupture and breaking strength (ISO 10545-4): 9 mm 20 mm K2
Slip resistance (DIN 51130): R9 R11
Thermal shock resistance (ISO 10545-9): compliant
Linear thermal expansion (ISO 10545-8): compliant