Former barracks to be transformed into cantilevered educational institution by MCA
Italian design studio Mario Cucinella Architects (MCA) has completed concept designs for a selection of cantilevered campus buildings for Nuova Università Valdostana on the site of the ex military barracks Testafochi in Aosta. Varying in height and depth, the classroom projections extend into an open courtyard space which is subject to ranging shadows throughout the course of the day.
Due to the constraints set out in the design brief, MCA was unable to resituate the building volumes as all new units are to be situated in the same position as the existing ones. As a result, the practice went to great lengths to create a remarkable structure that will generate a new character for the site without major disruption to the existing layout.
Following prolonged shadow simulations regarding the existing structures and nearby mountain range, a screening sheath has been added to the west-facing windows while to the south and east an additional skin will limit solar radiation. Numerous skylights and openings in communal locations enable the abundant natural sunlight to infiltrate the grand spaces within.
A key constituent of the design was to reduce the building’s environmental impact whilst taking into account the vast seasonal and daily range in temperature and light intensity. As such, a number of ‘green’ elements have been factored into the concept including: rainwater capture and reuse for irrigation, toilet flushing, and cleaning; underground geothermal ventilation ducts; multiple cooling towers encased within the central atrium; a well water heat pump supplemented by a condensing boiler; and natural ventilation in all student housing units. 4,600 sq m of photovoltaic panels are also to be incorporated onto the roof system.