New life, refurbishment and retrofit of a city icon from 1950's.



location: Piazzale Tricolore, Reggio Emilia
client: private
status:  project, 2011 - ongoing
collaborators: Monica Cavalletti, Alessia Grisanti, Alex Palmieri
program: general restoration and refurbishment of the fifties landmark building, redevelopment inside/outside spaces


The first large private work carried out in the city of Reggio Emilia at the beginning of 1950s, helping the reconstruction and expansion of the city, is located in the area of Porta San Pietro, on the eastern border of the historical city; located between the boulevards of the ring road and the station, it is a crucial point where urban crossing and entrance to the historical center merge. Realized by the Cooperative Architects and Engineers of Reggio Emilia, it was completed in 1953 with the realization of the overhanging roof plan on all sides and rising over the city. The skyscraper, a new type of building symbol of reconstruction and the post-war building boom, wanted to embody the symbol of the modernized city. The rise of the city from the recent past, in parallel with the modernization of a large part of its center, showed in the height development the mirror of a contemporary living above and beside the historical city, in a privileged raised position. It represented a modern super-condominium, an innovative building equipped with comforts on the American and Northern European model and, as such, was soon populated by the new entrepreneurial class of Reggio Emilia, showing the success of the real estate operation. The tripartite form optimized the exposure and the view, overcoming the modernist orthodoxy, multiplying the windowed surface that was thus framed within large loggias facing the city. Innovative also in technical solutions, with internal cavities for the direct disposal of waste, it was among the first buildings in the city equipped with all floors underfloor heating. On the ground floor there are spaces for commercial activities and a cafeteria, crossed by a portico passing through the avenue of the station. The fully glazed first level is intended for offices. At the top, the attic, also set back from the underlying volume, is characterized by large terraces and panoramic views towards the city, protected by the cantilever roofing that characterizes the crown of the tower. The structure is in reinforced concrete, buffered with brick walls, externally covered by a mosaic with glass tesserae.

Today, the building presents some construction leaks, including heat loss, detachment of mosaic tiles and deterioration of the details of the facades, problems related to obsolete and centralized systems, premature aging of the materials of the common external and internal areas as well as those more exposed, as loggias of the apartments. The project foresees the retrofit of the building from all points of view, from the restoration of the facades, the loggias, the common and the external areas up to the energetic improvement. The project is designed as a modular key for intervention; the part corresponding to the baseline level has been realized so far, and subsequent interventions will follow.