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The technical report - International competition for ideas “Youth Area at the Border” for the redevelopment of the former Civil Hospital - Gorizia Urban Project

Transcript of Flynn David

  • C L E A R I N G S The hospital buildings on this site occupy a woodland setting at the periphery of a town, at a historically important location at a border crossing on the national boundary with Slovenia; a line of boundary once but nowadays a line signifying a meeting of cultures as much as anything else. The existing buildings, now totalling approx. 38,000 square metres of space have accumulated over the course of the twentieth century adding and adapting to meet the needs of an increasing hospital complex. This function now having moved elsewhere, we are left with a series of institutional buildings and a question mark as to their future. However, there is great potential in physical site itself, the large empty buildings, a fascinating geographical location, and the nearby source of students and young people that all seem to possess a sort of latent energy that can be tapped to develop this site as an exciting and valuable cultural resource for the town of Gorizia and its wider hinterland. The report below outlines a brief analysis of the present site and building stock; identification of overall urban strategy for development; identification of the new programme for the site; description of new public spaces and buildings; a vehicular circulation strategy; followed by a specific itemised commentary on some existing and some new buildings. This is followed by an outline environmental assessment and a summary commentary on the financial viability of the proposal.

  • Spazio Giovanni alla Frontera Architectural Competition November 2011

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    FUNCTION With the hospital now gone the first question is what will the site be used for. In bestowing a new function to this place, we can start from a number of points: 1. Geography 2. Existing Buildings, Viability of re-use 3. Landscape 4. Financial Viability 5. Urban Expectation

    Geography The geographical location suggests a number of points:

    (i) On a national boundary, what was once a line of division, the line now signifies a meeting of cultures and perhaps the site of some sort of cultural exchange

    (ii) Not far from the university, there is the suggestion that the site be used to provide ancillary accommodation or facilities.

    Existing Buildings While the existing buildings are dealt with separately below, it is clear that all of the buildings are of very limited use in their present condition, and an assessment will have to be made as to the viability of their retention or otherwise. This having been made, the spatial configuration and layout of the buildings will tend to suggest future use.

    Landscape The mostly flat site is generally covered in grass with mature trees and a watercourse running through it. The woodland setting is somewhat unexpected in an urban setting and it is suggested that this parkland would become a valuable asset to the town of Gorizia.

    Financial Viability Owing to the size of the site and the area of buildings involved, it is clear that any intervention on this site will constitute a significant investment costly, which will likely have a private sector involvement and will need to guarantee some financial return to make the scheme viable.

    Urban Expectation Like many of Italys town, the urban structure of Gorizia largely follows a medieval layout with a semi-suburban / rural hinterland with a relatively low density of development. It is clear that the town does not have a lot of space for campus-type development incorporating purpose-built buildings with large, flexible floor plates.

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    URBAN STRATEGY In considering the above issues, we have endeavoured to create an overall urban strategy for the site before addressing the individual concerns of existing of new buildings. This is based on the retention on the site of four buildings: (Demolition of other buildings is detailed below) -Sanatorium building -General hospital building -Chapel -Mortuary (to remain as is)

    DEMOLITION Many of the buildings on site would require significant investment to render them attractive to any potential new uses. We would consider that have renovated or reconfigured these buildings, the end buildings may not have the flexibility of use or environmental credentials which would render the investment viable.

    Villa 4A/4B While the competition brief states that the retention of these would be preferable, one of the points underpinning our urban strategy is the creation of a large formal space between the hospital, sanatorium and psychiatric hospital. This would create a distinctive new urban ensemble for the town, and we feel that the potential of this for the creation of urban vibrancy would justify the demolition of the two villas.

    Hospital This is a very large building and we have taken the view that its retention would be preferable, notwithstanding the work required to bring it into compliance with Seismic stability requirements. In order to make this financially viable, we have proposed to substantially reduce the size of the building, which will ease the difficulty in structurally stabilising the building

    YOUTH CAMPUS Any proposal for this site has to be thought out as an intervention within a relatively complex existing context; this is clearly not a tabula-rasa situation.

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    Inspired by a woodland context, we have proposed to organise the buildings around a series of Clearings, which will act as focal points and help to organise future development. This will create a campus type environment appropriate to the anticipated users of the buildings. A series of organisational spaces have been created:

    (i) The Triangle Taking the geometry of the Sanatorium and hospital buildings, we have extrapolated this to create a large triangle, the base fronting onto Avenue. And the apex pointing to the national boundary. This is an over-arching organisational device with the bulk of development happening to the sides of this. This will be a natural grassland, retaining existing specimen trees and with an array of pedestrians footpaths throughout.

    (ii) Front fields The Sanatorium and hospital buildings are canted towards each other. Having cleared away the Villa buildings, and opening up the site to the street, a distinctive space is described and we proposed to landscape this as semi-wild grassland with footpaths.

    (iii)The Oval As noted above, we are proposing to demolish large elements of the hospital building so as to make its retention viable. There is clearly an issue with solar gain in the existing building. We have proposed a new over sailing roof structure to provide shading to the elevations. This defines a civic space around the building. Between the front and back blocks we are proposing to create a oval shaped oculus in the roof which will be the defining characteristic of the piazza below.

    (iv) Research Courtyard On a route from the university, to the west of the site, we have made a clearing with two new linear buildings framing it. These will form research buildings ancillary to the university

    along with private sector research / office accommodation, creating an exciting potential for overlap and synergies between the two. This new square giving access to the triangle is over a covered basement car park.

    (v) Mortuary Pool It is understood that the existing mortuary buildings are to be retained in their present form. However, the immediate environment surrounding these is somewhat desolate and entirely inappropriate for any people visiting the building. We have kept all new development at a removed from the area so that a sort of buffer zone is created giving privacy to the mortuary and its surroundings. Central to this we have proposed to collect water from the existing stream in a new decorative reflecting pool around which a dense arrangement of new trees are planted. This will create an appropriate, serene and dignified environment for the mortuary.

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    VEHICULAR ACCESS, PARKING The vehicular strategy is predicated on two main entrances, one to either side of the triangle.

    (i) Coming from the West the existing road is retained and leads to the Mortuary. This also serves the research courtyard and its underground car park.

    (ii) To the South, off Avenue. A new entrance runs between the hospital buildings and the boarding school. This gives access to the former hospital building, the new hearth services (ASS Isontina) building and an adjacent surface car park. The kindergarten facility is also accessed from this road

    (iii) Numerous pedestrian links are provided throughout the site so that the central spaces are kept car-free.


    Sanatorium Hotel Designed in a formal neoclassical idiom this imposing building of XXX sq.m metres is presently configured in a cellular arrangement which could be further subdivided without major structural works to create hotel accommodation, with all rooms opening onto private external space. In this distinctive building, and bearing in mind the setting, it is felt that this would make a very attractive landmark hotel to encourage visitors to the place.

    Hospital Youth Building

    Psychiatric Hospital Outside the scope of this competition, we have not proposed any works to this building. However, the external landscaping should be considered within the context of the hospital site redevelopment. The space between this building and the former hospital and sanatorium buildi