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Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.

Domus Vitae in Ferrara, Italy by Tomas Ghisellini Architects

January 3rd, 2013 by Sumit Singhal

Article source: Tomas Ghisellini Architects

A large green area, included between scenes and architectural settings, regenerates the fascination of the wonderful Delizie (marvelous country houses with huge gardens) of the Este Family, reinterpreting one of the urban issues perhaps more intimately rooted into the mental image that people keep of their city.

The outdoor patio of the sacred tree : Image Courtesy Tomas Ghisellini Architects

  • Architects: Tomas Ghisellini Architects
  • Project: Domus Vitae
  • Location: Ferrara, Italy
  • Client: Municipality of Ferrara
  • Program: New city morgue and social facilities complex
  • Two-Phases Competition: May – November 2012 / FIRST PRIZE
  • Project: 2013-2014
  • Building Construction: 2015-2016
  • Interior Design: Tomas Ghisellini Architects
  • Structures: Beatrice Bergamini
  • Plants and Fire Safety: Nicola Gallini
  • Sustainability and LEED Evaluation: Violeta Archer
  • Collaborators: Michele Marchi, Alice Marzola
  • Site area: 9.730 sqm
  • Building area (new + recovery): 1.560 sqm
  • Gross floor area (new + recovery): 1.290 sqm
  • Gross floor underground level: 1.590 sqm
  • Sustainability goal: LEED Platinum Certified
  • Total cost: 3.700.000,00 €

The double-height foyer seen from the funeral rooms level : Image Courtesy Tomas Ghisellini Architects

The border wall is carved and made literally transparent; passersby, on foot or by bicycle, intrigued by the opportunity to spy on the large green space from the outside, becoming part of the experience. The historic Ferrara walled garden, from a territory of separation and exclusion, evolves into a social space to meet, a collective and fluid urban carpet.

One of the funeral rooms seen from the two-levels secret patio : Image Courtesy Tomas Ghisellini Architects

The new architectural presence is a continuous but porous body: balconies, porches, patios, terraces, overhangs and suspended volumes capture, tame or magnify natural light, creating spaces for which the atmospheric quality is supposed to be a decisive added value.

One of the funeral room with the sky-open patio : Image Courtesy Tomas Ghisellini Architects

Flanked to one of the existing buildings along the southern edge, a plug-linear technology spine incorporates all the technical equipments and service functions necessary to the complex (deposits, storage’s, technical boxes, toilets, plant rooms, vertical connections, service entrances) and the approach-gap conserved between old and new, illuminated by natural light raining from above, distributes the spaces reserved for the sole employees arousing the perceptive suggestion of a historic alley.

an office/laboratory set in the southern pre-existing building : Image Courtesy Tomas Ghisellini Architects

The existing southern building shows to the these inner distributions its north elevation. It hosts functions of acceptance, observation, analysis and storage of corpses, as well as the administrative, management and support to the personnel whose recreational facilities are strategically positioned on the east, close to a small public space, accessible from the outside, reserved to a coffee and snack bar.

the underground parking illuminated by natural light from above : Image Courtesy Tomas Ghisellini Architects

This cafeteria will also refresh mourners and occasional visitors to the citadel. Here, moreover, residents will gather in the evenings to chat, have a coffee, or just relax silently on the gardens.

the walled garden and the main front of the complex : Image Courtesy Tomas Ghisellini Architects

A large mineral outdoor patio embraces the old circular pit making it become the new composition’s center of gravity, and drawing here the most significant common meeting area for mourners on the outside. The ground floor hosts the reception and sets up the places for acceptance and movement, as well as ceremonial rooms used in the preparation of remains. Around the double-height foyer, facing the patio and the historic city defensive walls to the east, stairs and lifters blocks allow vertical displacements from the basement straight up to the highest nobel level without visitors and staff never come into contact.

the underground parking level : Image Courtesy Tomas Ghisellini Architects

Spaces for the wake, away from the hermetic character of the Western tradition, yet perfectly protected from any introspection are here conceived as rooms of light: an entire wall of glass opens the interior to beautiful sky-opened two levels secret patios with hanging gardens, flowers and tree species. The intimacy of each of these five emotional environments offers visitors a somewhat “comforting” experience of pain.

Ground floor : Image Courtesy Tomas Ghisellini Architects

Each of the secret patios welcomes the work of a contemporary artist; the mortuary builds sites of affective sharing, spaces to live poetically thanks to the language of art.

First floor : Image Courtesy Tomas Ghisellini Architects

An outside “path” in height, through the mineral patio, leads to a mysterious outdoor belvedere, otherwise unreachable, facing the garden and beyond the profile of the Renaissance city walls. This special meditative space is designed for individual isolation and contemplation. Suspended just opposite to the transparent main front and facing the rising sun, the architectural body surrounds the courtyard, floating on air, embracing the visitors.

Main sections : Image Courtesy Tomas Ghisellini Architects

The old circular pre-existing pit is a great place to house a sacred tree, a universal symbol of life and rebirth in all cultural and religious beliefs. So the Citadel will celebrate death not as an interruption, but as a simple transformation of life. Thus, for this reason it will be called Domus Vitae, home for life.

building loop circulation scheme : Image Courtesy Tomas Ghisellini Architects

Vegetal infiltration system: the green building : Image Courtesy Tomas Ghisellini Architects

Project components : Image Courtesy Tomas Ghisellini Architects

Phasing: hypothesis of construction by independent phases : Image Courtesy Tomas Ghisellini Architects

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Categories: complex, Funeral Home, Social Centre

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