Type of project
Corten Steel Travertine White Brick Resin Addition Virus Light Plaster
Monographic “College Santa Chiara”
Paola De Pietri
Sinalunga (SI), Italy
Graduate College Santa Chiara is a university complex occupying approximately 5,000 square metres, designated as a residence for graduate students. The complex features classrooms, a canteen, a library, bedrooms, and an auditorium housed in the former convent of the Poor Clares, a small citadel that was already viable.
The site is centrally located in relation to the urban fabric, contiguous to the medieval Basilica di Santa Maria dei Servi and a short distance from the Museum of the Contrada di Valdimontone, designed by the architect Giovanni Michelucci. The Graduate College Santa Chiara project is a product of the refinement of an operational method that highlights the dismantling of the existing equilibrium as a priority, from the intuitive survey to the project’s artistic philosophy and formal choices. In this way, we can make room for a new organising principle that is not necessarily incompatible with its inherited geometric-conceptual heritage.
Therefore, some clear design choices, such as repositioning the main stairwell and the placement of the parallelepiped that forms the new auditorium, clad in travertine stone with cor-ten steel sheet roofing, determine the evolution of the floor plan and the genesis of the new paths and internal squares.
By virtue of its original role as a cloistered convent, this architectural work could be defined as introverted, entirely inward facing, with no possibility of increasing the dimension of the façade, and suffering from a kind of incommunicability; this is overcome by changing the scale relationships and establishing a kind of internal urbanism.
It is a real city with an organic urban fabric embellished by architectural features such as the auditorium and the library. The entrance hall is lit by a skylight. Internal and external pathways cut across the entire area longitudinally and embrace the central section containing classrooms and the refectory. Inclined ramps and steps connect the open spaces and vegetable gardens, and rest spaces open onto the landscape.
Moreover, the continuous reworking of the architectural materials over the centuries encouraged and emboldened us to carry on elaborating, perpetuating the sedimentation, and enforcing the contemporary matrix of the idea behind the design.