02-09-2005

Olivetti Residential Centre in Ivrea, Gabetti e Isola

Roberto Gabetti e Aimaro Isola,

Ivrea, Italy,

Residences, Housing,

Design,

Steel, Glass,

Adriano Olivetti had perfectly understood -as did many enlightened public figures before and after him- the need, both in corporate and human and social terms, of building a self-contained centre for his employees.



Olivetti Residential Centre in Ivrea, Gabetti e Isola It is lovely to wake up in the morning and welcome the snowbound landscapes of the cold Piemonte winters at times, and the brilliant colours of spring at others. The architecture changes according to the seasons, the people who live there see the changes in the colours, shades and tones of light.
The centre respects the natural morphology of the ground: the convex façade is practically concealed by a mantle of green while the flat roof becomes a usable extension of the surrounding area.
For those who come here to visit the residential centre or the Institute Interaction Design, the building is literally hidden amidst nature. Aimaro Isola narrates in a video interview: "(...) We built an invisible building in a beautiful area opposite a hill and, almost as if we were in an amphitheatre, we built a large scythe, a large arch with its upper part covered with earth from where people could contemplate nature as though they were at the theatre".
A second concentric circular crown contains the parking spaces, one for each apartment. It is covered by grass and illuminated by Perspex lanterns.

There are two kind of apartment: simplex and duplex. The first, for 1-2 people (80 m²), features a night area with bathroom and a large living room with kitchenette.
The second, for 3-4 people (120 m²), covers two floors: the night area is on the first floor while the living area is on the ground floor. Many of the residential units still contain the period furniture designed by Ettore Sottsass. The enlightened spirit of its founder can still be sensed in these units.
The new use made of them has put an ideal into practice here at Ivrea: that of open research, not academic and notional, but based on the experimentation, collaboration and affinities of young people from various parts of the world with different backgrounds: from India to the United States, from psychologists to architects.
It is still an enlightened place, therefore. Just like the mind and thoughts of its creator, just like the people who designed it.

Francesca Oddo

Photos by Daniele Mancini

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