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New Rooms for the Faculity of Architecture at Roma 3 University

The Testaccio district has become a challenging matter of reflection about culture and architecture, and here one of the treasures of the industrial archeology of the Capital - shut down in the early '70s - is slowly being restored to life by a group of young architects grown up at the best Roman school.

Architects: Insula architettura e ingegneria
Location: Testaccio, former slaughterhouse, Rome, Italy

“Our goal has been enhancing the existing space without overwhelming it with forms or incongruous elements. In some way we tried to behave in the way  the architect who designed the place would act to the present day. The new features are made possible by introducing, only where necessary new elements designed in a very sober way, conceived so as to leave always visible and understandable the original spatial environment. We worked with simplicity, linearity and lightness, using few materials and a few colors, trying to cure all the details.”

With these words the Italian architect Eugenio Cipollone describes the core of this work that stands out in the Italian panorama for its extreme directness and the ability to enhance history and texture of surfaces

Over the last ten years The Testaccio district in Rome has become a workshop on urban transformations and a significative strategic area for urban development, The ex slaughterhouse was built between 1880 and 1890 following the project of the architect and engineer Gioacchino Ersoch ; at that time it was one of the most advanced of its kind. The pavilions show a simple building system: rectangular shaped plan volumes, bricks and tuff structure with regular openings ,pitched roof coverings supported by "Polonceau" iron trusses.

Considered one of the best examples of industrial archaeology in Rome of 19th century civil engineering, in the seventies it was dismissed, going since then under different refurbishments for new temporary uses. Nowadays the property of the area is shared between the Municipality and the Roma 3 University.

The Campus Project
Between 2001 and 2013 Insula studio coordinated the requalification of the entire complex, and also the recovery intervention into a University campus, realizing the feasibility study and the scheme design of the whole area and designing some of  the pavilions.

The first intervention regarded Pavilion 6 (toilets and powerhouse) and Pavilion 7: a great covered hall (85x15x10 meters) with four big skylights on top. The project goal was to realize three workshop classrooms and a 260 seats auditorium. The architects have chosen to exalt the industrial volume, and create separate spaces also acoustically isolated- trough the insertion of three steel-structure partition walls: transversal diaphragm partially transparent, linear, light, realized by a choice of essential materials (steel, wood, glass) and colours (blue, white and grey).Big geometrical podiums and long suspended wall tables re-establish the human scale and underline the didactic use of the place.

The project of Pavilion 2B (finished 2013) foresaw the recovery of the building to guarantee flexible locations for classes and workshops, together with a collective space as a link between the architecture school and the library. As in the previous intervention, Insula decided to preserve the volume and articulate the large internal space -840 square meters- through mobile partitions, tracing the original division in 7 stables (demolished in 1932). Six walls are placed between the trusses, and show a stable part (glass and steel) and a central opaque part (long 9 and high 3 meters) made by a folding panel system easy to move for creating different size ambiences, depending on the needs (from 120 to 729 square meters).

The intervention was carefully aimed to restore and preserve what is left of the original Ersoch project: as well as on the outside, where the façades and the decorations have been philologically restored.

The redevelopment of the complex should be continued and it foresees  the recovery of three other pavilions to host new functions and their transformation into departmental offices and laboratories for the University. The environment stimulates creativity by offering countless design ideas for students of the Faculty of Architecture in which is intended.

Project data

Client: Università degli studi “Roma Tre”

Pavilions 6 and 7

Structural Consultant: E.D.IN. srl
Technological consultant: Francesco Bianchi, Mario Gamberale
Construction firm:  Impresa Giuseppe Zanzi e figli S.p.A.
Area: 1,200 m²
Volume: 14,400 m³
Chronology: 1998-2002
Costs: 1 million Euro

Pavilion  2B
Structural Consultant: E.D.IN. srl
Technological consultant: DI.M.I. – Dipartimento di ingegneria e meccanica e industriale
Construction firm: Italiana Costruzioni S.p.A.

Sectors 2b, 4, 8, 23
Area: 3,530 m²
Volume: 23,162 m³

Pavilion 2b
Area: 900 m²
Volume: 7,650 m³
Chronology: 2005-2013

Costs: Sectors 2b, 4, 8, 23: 10.000.000 Eur / Pavilion 2b: 2 million Euro

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