The new Law and Political Sciences Campus in Torino University, founded in 1404, has been successfully designed and driven to opening by a large team of Italian specialists, locally led by Torino based architect and urban designer Benedetto Camerana and by Tecnimont large engineering group, under the innovative concept developed by Foster&Partner.
Project: Foster and Partners (lead architect)
Benedetto Camerana, Maire Engineering (agent)
Location: Lungo Dora Siena 100, Torino
Client: University of Turin
Procedure: International design competition, first place
Functions: New university campus (faculty of law and political science), library
Chronology: Competition (2004), definitive project (2005), executive project (2006), opening (2012)
Consultants: Tecnimont (former Fiat Engineering, agent), Mellano Associati, Giugiaro Design, I.C.I.S
Collaborators: Claude Balthasart, Rosanna Bevilacqua, Eugenia Comparetto, Daniela Favero, Maria L’Episcopo, Valentina Negro, Aldo Ponzetti, Nicoletta Pramaggiore, Alessandro Rigazio, Alessia Venturini, Marco Caretto
Dimensional data: 45.061 sqm
Total cost: 58.504.897,00 €
Photo credits: Michele D’Ottavio, Nigel Young, David Vicario
Existing structures, topography and architecture are intertwined in the transformation of one of the oldest former industrial areas in the city – the one-time headquarters of the Società Italiana del Gas (Italian Gas Company) from 1849 onwards. Located along the River Dora, the plot is right in the heart of the historical centre of Turin, close to the Royal Gardens and very much integrated into the consolidated urban fabric.
In 2006, the group formed by Benedetto Camerana, Foster&Partners and Tecnimont wins the major international competition for the design and build in this area of the new “Luigi Einaudi” University Campus – the centre for the Faculty of Law and Politics, with an adjacent library. The main idea of the project is the large internal courtyard, the circular shape of which recalls the geometry of the enormous gasometers in the area and in the nearby Largo Montebello.
This internal piazza, like the quadrangles of British universities, is the central fulcrum of a landscaped public route that links the riverside park with the city. The design of the landscape, dotted with site-specific works of art, enriches the internal garden, which is surrounded by the technological facades – an aluminium-and-glass curtain wall that in its continuity defines the architectural volumes, which are designed as a fluid material, with their sinuous, dynamic forms that recall the meanders of the river. Suspended glass galleries connect the volumes, which are crowned by the powerful, unifying element of the large roof – a gigantic, white Teflon tensile structure, bordered by a black “bull nose” profile, inserting an unusual touch of the contemporary within the historical context. This organic volume conceals the services while also protecting the facades and the interiors from the rain and from strong sunlight.
The new library extends across a surface area of 20,000 m2, sub-divided into three buildings overlooking the River Dora. The interior design is handled by Camerana, with details that ensure the maximum environmental comfort in relation to the function. The spaces of the library are defined by the false ceiling with its light-coloured wooden slats; by the rubber floor, which is acoustically effective and colour coded, becoming brighter as the floors rise, from red to yellow; and last of all by the reading table – a single, continuous surface located along the curved, glazed walls, making it possible to look over the river, bathed in natural light.