Institute for Biotechnology in Turin

Flanked by 19th-century buildings, the new complex for the Institute for Biotechnology makes an uncompromising statement on Via Nizza in Turin. Located on the south side of Centro Storico, it adopts the original block structure of the old faculty of veterinary science, which it replaces. A pre-war building, Tornelli dairy, was renovated and integrated in the new ensemble. The institute opens up to the street with a 15-metre high glass front, behind which is a red-paved courtyard, planted with pine trees, that acts as a piazza, interpolating between university and city. Grand theatrical openings in the volumes either side of the glass wall give passers-by more glimpses of life within. Further back, the research and teaching areas for biotechnology, chemistry and immunology are arranged around four courtyards. The upper floors mostly contain seminar rooms, lecture halls, offices and a centre for business start-ups. Generous glazing affords unexpected views over the city. One new feature of this project, for Italy, is the use of self-compacting concrete. This not only gives valuable span widths internally, but also has a distinctive influence on the character of the new buildings: almost jointless, uninterrupted visual-concrete surfaces and sharp corners and edges underline the clear geometry of the volumes and hollows and lend an almost abstract quality to the whole.
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