On a child’s scale
CSPE (Centro Studi Progettazione Edilizia)
Advanced technology and environmental compatibility are integrated in the project for the new Meyer paediatric centre in Florence, establishing synergies that aim to transform strict environmental constraints into design themes promoting dialogue between the built environment and nature.
The morphology of the Careggi hill prompted the initial idea for the project, which adopts a partially underground solution in order blend into the landscape and preserve the site’s existing historic park, old villa and a hill of outstanding natural beauty.
The old villa has been renovated to offer support services, while the hospital functions are concentrated in the new building.
The first two floors are located partially underground and only the third lies completely above ground. Furthermore, the three floors are tapered and staggered to create projections with large planted terraces surmounted by a roof garden.
A large three-volume greenhouse-style hall serves as the hub of communications. It is a structure built with laminar wood and glass load-bearing elements that uses photovoltaic panels with the dual function of producing electrical energy (25 kilowatt) and serving as a filter for natural light.
The bulk of the building is recessed into the hillside. This solution solves the problem of integrating with the environment and has the added advantages of a sustainable approach. The compact volume offers natural insulation, complemented by the technological solution of green roofs that create a damped internal microclimate and transform the monolithic block into a form of green architecture with an image of domestic familiarity.
The entire hospital complex was designed and built to a new environmental concept, capable of combining energy saving with reduction of atmospheric CO2 emissions. Both in the original building, Villa Ognissanti, and in the new structure set into the hillside, an array of solutions were adopted to reduce energy consumption, optimise ventilation, protect against overheating in the summer, reduce the use of air conditioning and make best use of natural light.
The choice of materials also reflects the project’s sustainable approach. The pre-oxidised copper tones are well suited to the colours of the surrounding landscape and the depth of the terracing strips allows the internal space to be used to hide the utilities. These projections also serve to house the patients’ rooms, which benefit from a protected external area and screened light that never strikes the windows directly.
The interior spaces use simple and non-toxic materials including Vogue ceramic tiles. Especially in the bathrooms, their extensive use of colour helps to create a physical and psychological space that reinvents the concept of hospital, moving away from strictly functionalist criteria in favour of new parameters dictated by child psychology.