Live from Site: Conversion of Industrial Heritage and Mixed Use Regeneration

It took us four years, infinite passion and a visionary client but finally works are entering in their final stage for the conversion and change of use of two former military warehouses in the city of Reggio Emilia in Italy. The architectural shell designed to house tanks during WWII will soon open the doors to a range of social services and amenities. The converted buildings will cater for residential units for disabled people, offices for NGOs, a public auditorium, an organic restaurant, a doctor surgery and a covered market.

Ex polveriera, Reggio Emilia, Italy, construction phase, new public portico.

Ex polveriera, Reggio Emilia, Italy, construction phase, new public portico.

With the buildings being grade I listed, Marcel Mauer’s concept has focused on clarifying the difference between the existing and the new parts of the architecture. New functions are organised in stand alone volumes shaped in the archetypical form of a gabled roof house. The new small houses within the old large one are then placed on the floor plan following a  checkers board pattern thus allowing unobstructed diagonal lines through the space.

 

Ex polveriera, Reggio Emilia, Italy, first floor residential units.

Ex polveriera, Reggio Emilia, Italy, first floor residential units.

 

“It should not look like an hospital”. The operator of the disabled people care home was very clear at the beginning of the project and provided us with a design challenge. How, within a constrained budget, deliver spacial diversity and avoid the sense of segregation that low spec care homes sometimes carry along? Our solution was once again to pursue the variation on the theme of the archetypical profile of the detached house thus providing each guest/resident with distinctive living unit. We wanted to celebrate living and living space.

Ex Polveriera, Reggio Emilia, Italy. Shot of the building site in June 2015. First Floor, disabled people care home.

Ex Polveriera, Reggio Emilia, Italy. Shot of the building site in June 2015. First Floor, disabled people care home.

Works will continue throughout summer and practical completion is expected by the end of 2015.

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