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CLEARINGS The hospital buildings on this site occupy a woodland setting at the periphery of a town, at a historically important location at a border crossing on the national boundary with Slovenia; a line of boundary once but nowadays a line signifying a meeting of cultures as much as anything else. The existing buildings, now totalling approx. 38,000 square metres of space have accumulated over the course of the twentieth century adding and adapting to meet the needs of an increasing hospital complex. This function now having moved elsewhere, we are left with a series of institutional buildings and a question mark as to their future. However, there is great potential in physical site itself, the large empty buildings, a fascinating geographical location, and the nearby source of students and young people that all seem to possess a sort of latent energy that can be tapped to develop this site as an exciting and valuable cultural resource for the town of Gorizia and its wider hinterland. The report below outlines a brief analysis of the present site and building stock; identification of overall urban strategy for development; identification of the new programme for the site; description of new public spaces and buildings; a vehicular circulation strategy; followed by a specific itemised commentary on some existing and some new buildings. This is followed by an outline environmental assessment and a summary commentary on the financial viability of the proposal.

Spazio Giovanni alla Frontera

Architectural Competition November 2011

Financial Viability

FUNCTION With the hospital now gone the first question is what will the site be used for. In bestowing a new function to this place, we can start from a number of points: 1. Geography 2. Existing Buildings, Viability of re-use 3. Landscape 4. Financial Viability 5. Urban Expectation


Owing to the size of the site and the area of buildings involved, it is clear that any intervention on this site will constitute a significant investment costly, which will likely have a private sector involvement and will need to guarantee some financial return to make the scheme viable.

Urban Expectation Like many of Italy’s town, the urban structure of Gorizia largely follows a medieval layout with a semi-suburban / rural hinterland with a relatively low density of development. It is clear that the town does not have a lot of space for campustype development incorporating purpose-built buildings with large, flexible floor plates.

The geographical location suggests a number of points: (i) On a national boundary, what was once a line of division, the line now signifies a meeting of cultures and perhaps the site of some sort of cultural exchange (ii) Not far from the university, there is the suggestion that the site be used to provide ancillary accommodation or facilities.

Existing Buildings While the existing buildings are dealt with separately below, it is clear that all of the buildings are of very limited use in their present condition, and an assessment will have to be made as to the viability of their retention or otherwise. This having been made, the spatial configuration and layout of the buildings will tend to suggest future use.

Landscape The mostly flat site is generally covered in grass with mature trees and a watercourse running through it. The woodland setting is somewhat unexpected in an urban setting and it is suggested that this parkland would become a valuable asset to the town of Gorizia.

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Spazio Giovanni alla Frontera

Architectural Competition November 2011

URBAN STRATEGY In considering the above issues, we have endeavoured to create an overall urban strategy for the site before addressing the individual concerns of existing of new buildings. This is based on the retention on the site of four buildings: (Demolition of other buildings is detailed below) -Sanatorium building -General hospital building -Chapel -Mortuary (to remain as is)

DEMOLITION Many of the buildings on site would require significant investment to render them attractive to any potential new uses. We would consider that have renovated or reconfigured these buildings, the end buildings may not have the flexibility of use or environmental credentials which would render the investment viable.

Villa 4A/4B While the competition brief states that the retention of these would be preferable, one of the points underpinning our urban strategy is the creation of a large formal space between the hospital, sanatorium and psychiatric hospital. This would create a distinctive new urban ensemble for the town, and we feel that the potential of this for the creation of urban vibrancy would justify the demolition of the two villas.

Hospital This is a very large building and we have taken the view that its retention would be preferable, notwithstanding the work required to bring it into compliance with Seismic stability requirements. In order to make this financially viable, we have proposed to substantially reduce the size of the building, which will ease the difficulty in structurally stabilising the building

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YOUTH CAMPUS Any proposal for this site has to be thought out as an intervention within a relatively complex existing context; this is clearly not a tabula-rasa situation.


Spazio Giovanni alla Frontera

Inspired by a woodland context, we have proposed to organise the buildings around a series of Clearings, which will act as focal points and help to organise future development. This will create a campus type environment appropriate to the anticipated users of the buildings. A series of organisational spaces have been created:

(i) The Triangle Taking the geometry of the Sanatorium and hospital buildings, we have extrapolated this to create a large triangle, the base fronting onto Avenue‌. And the apex pointing to the national boundary. This is an over-arching organisational device with the bulk of development happening to the sides of this. This will be a natural grassland, retaining existing specimen trees and with an array of pedestrians footpaths throughout.

(ii) Front fields

Architectural Competition November 2011

along with private sector research / office accommodation, creating an exciting potential for overlap and synergies between the two. This new square giving access to the triangle is over a covered basement car park.

(v) Mortuary Pool It is understood that the existing mortuary buildings are to be retained in their present form. However, the immediate environment surrounding these is somewhat desolate and entirely inappropriate for any people visiting the building. We have kept all new development at a removed from the area so that a sort of buffer zone is created giving privacy to the mortuary and its surroundings. Central to this we have proposed to collect water from the existing stream in a new decorative reflecting pool around which a dense arrangement of new trees are planted. This will create an appropriate, serene and dignified environment for the mortuary.

The Sanatorium and hospital buildings are canted towards each other. Having cleared away the Villa buildings, and opening up the site to the street, a distinctive space is described and we proposed to landscape this as semi-wild grassland with footpaths.

(iii)The Oval As noted above, we are proposing to demolish large elements of the hospital building so as to make its retention viable. There is clearly an issue with solar gain in the existing building. We have proposed a new over sailing roof structure to provide shading to the elevations. This defines a civic space around the building. Between the front and back blocks we are proposing to create a oval shaped oculus in the roof which will be the defining characteristic of the piazza below.

(iv) Research Courtyard On a route from the university, to the west of the site, we have made a clearing with two new linear buildings framing it. These will form research buildings ancillary to the university

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Spazio Giovanni alla Frontera

VEHICULAR ACCESS, PARKING The vehicular strategy is predicated on two main entrances, one to either side of the triangle. (i) Coming from the West the existing road is retained and leads to the Mortuary. This also serves the research courtyard and its underground car park. (ii) To the South, off Avenue…. A new entrance runs between the hospital buildings and the boarding school. This gives access to the former hospital building, the new hearth services (ASS Isontina) building and an adjacent surface car park. The kindergarten facility is also accessed from this road (iii) Numerous pedestrian links are provided throughout the site so that the central spaces are kept car-free.

Architectural Competition November 2011

Sanatorium – Hotel Designed in a formal neoclassical idiom this imposing building of XXX sq.m metres is presently configured in a cellular arrangement which could be further subdivided without major structural works to create hotel accommodation, with all rooms opening onto private external space. In this distinctive building, and bearing in mind the setting, it is felt that this would make a very attractive landmark hotel to encourage visitors to the place.

Hospital – Youth Building

Psychiatric Hospital Outside the scope of this competition, we have not proposed any works to this building. However, the external landscaping should be considered within the context of the hospital site redevelopment. The space between this building and the former hospital and sanatorium buildings will form a distinctive urban setting which will become a signature space of the Gorizia. Traffic calming measures and well thought out paving and landscaping will improve pedestrian connections across Via…. Which will ensure activity and urban vibrancy in this place.

Chapel – Kindergarten


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We consider that the existing chapel building was carefully thought out by its original designer and is of architectural merit. However, the fact remains that its function as a hospital chapel is now redundant. The organisation strategy of the building – a central chapel space surrounded by ancillary accommodation – is a robust strategy and would lend itself to the creation of a childcare facility or kindergarten. By lifting the pitched roof of the building a sheltered outdoor space is created around which a series of rooms could open onto. This would be an ideal environment for young children to play. We have proposed a laminated timber shading structure with a circular opening which would sit on top of the existing chapel


Spazio Giovanni alla Frontera

walls. The existing belfry tower could be easily modified for signage announcing the facility.

Health Services Building (new)

Architectural Competition November 2011

and quickly assemble on site around a concrete service core containing lift and fire escape staircase. The whole structure is clad in Corten steel sheeting with a robust and timeless appearance and requiring no maintenance.

In lieu of the two villa buildings, fronting onto Via‌., and the upgrade works required, we have proposed a new purpose built office building which would also contain generic office accommodation which could be leased out to others, or indeed could also for future expansion of the health services offices. This building is served by the surface car park to its east.

Mortuary Work to the existing mortuary building is outside the scope of this proposal. However, a strategy is outlined for its immediate environment which is barren and desolate at present. We have proposed a buffer zone between this and the rest of the site, so that this place is set apart at a respectful distance from the other buildings. A new reflecting pool collects water from an existing stream passing through the site and forms a central focal point, which would be appropriately serene for people visiting the mortuary. This is surrounded by extensive tree planting with an opening onto the central triangle space.

Research Buildings (new) Tower House At the apex of the Triangle and directly on the national boundary, we have proposed a tall look-out tower of a scale one might associate with Northern Italian hilltop towns. This forms an invitation to locals and visitors to climb up and survey the surrounding landscape of the two counties. The building also contains a hospitality space which can be hired out for special events. The structural is envisaged as being composed of lightweight steel prefabricated components which can be made off-site

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Spazio Giovanni alla Frontera

Architectural Competition November 2011

ENVIRONMENTAL STRATEGY The proposal as a civic enterprise is underpinned by an environmental strategy than means the site is a self-sufficient as reasonably feasible from an energy usage perspective. (i) Adaptation and re-use of existing buildings (ii) Demolition of existing structure and grinding down on site for re-use as backfill (iii) Water to mortuary pool (iv) Location of car parking (v) Damage or loss of trees has been kept to a minimum by careful positioning of new buildings / hard paved areas on the brown-field land previously occupied by some of the existing buildings. (vi) Solar shading devices to reduce energy requirements.

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Spazio Giovanni alla Frontera

FINANCIAL STATEMENT The proposal outlined in this submission describes a robust strategy for addressing the development of the former site. Clearly this proposal comprises a number of separate elements which could take place in phased development within an overall development plan. Though detailed costings are beyond the scope of this report, we have outlined a schedule of works with indicative costs associated with them. Costs are calculated on a cost per area basis in the absence of information regarding locally building costs. All costs outlined below and necessarily preliminary in nature and are based on an Architect’s estimate without any information regarding local building costs.

Architectural Competition November 2011

Site Area Existing Plot Ratio Proposed Plot Ratio Schedule of Building Areas Building Hospital Sanatorium Mortuary Villa 4A Villa 4B Miscellaneous Other Buildings Infectious Diseases Incinerator Chapel Tower House Health Services Building Research Buildings Total

New Build Refurbishment Roads, Surface Parking Basement Parking Estimated Total


17.987 Ha =1:0.2 =1:0.27

Existing 17743 9529 2016 1950 1950

Proposed 12195 12529 2016 0 0

Demolition 5548 0 1950 1950

New Build 0 3000 0 0 0

1799 943 835 830 0 0 0

0 0 0 510 2000 6000 13835

1799 943 835 320 0 0 0

0 0 0 0 2000 6000 13835





Cost / Sq.m 1200 800 60 575

Area 24835 27250 17250 8300

Total 29802000 21800000 1035000 4772500 57409500

Notes: Excludes Site acquisition, Demolition, Site Clearance, Landscaping, Professional Fees, Local authority fees, VAT All areas given as gross internal areas measured to the inside face of external walls Costs have been estimated by an architect and are indicative only.

Sources of Revenue Generation Hotel, Restaurant, Bar 12529 Sq.m Lettable office space 19835 Sq.m Kindergarten 510 Sq.m Tower House Visitor Attraction 2000 Sq.m


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The hospital buildings on this site occupy a woodland setting at the periphery of a town, at a historically important location at a border crossing on the national boundary with Slovenia; a line of boundary once but nowadays a line signifying a meeting of cultures as much as anything else. However, there is great potential in physical site itself, the large empty buildings, a fascinating geographical location, and the nearby source of students and young people that all seem to possess a sort of latent energy that can be tapped to develop this site as an exciting and valuable cultural resource for the town of Gorizia and its wider hinterland.

Mortuary A new reflecting pool surrounded by formally laid out trees creates a serene and appropriastely dignified space, buffered from its surroundings. S

Existing building to be refubished and upgraded in new landcaped grounds. Access via new road along Western site boundary.


New lakeside avenue leads to mortuary Mortuary car park screened with semi-mature trees planted on a formal grid

Reflecting Pond It is proposed to dig out an artifical ornnamental lake to act as a focal point, and neutral space between the diverse functions accomodated on the Northern half of the site. The lake is supplied by the existing stream which runs through the site, along with surface water run-off from surrounding buildings and paved surfaces.




Research & Innovation Coutyard Tow new new linear buildings on either side of a landscaped courtyard accomodate development facilities intended to compliment the nearby university programmes. Car parking is provided at ground level under the buildings and courtyard.

View looking West along Via Vittorio Veneto A wild meadow replaces the old car parks and Villas 4A/B and becomes a new civic space for Gorizia, sympathetic to its natural hinterland. REFLECTING POND WOODLAND

Medical Services / A.S.S. Building A new purpose-built building is proposed on the site of the existing hospital storage buildings. This will accomodate staff presently working in the two villas along Via Vittorio Veneto. The building overlooks the parkland and the new lake.







The old hospital, reduced in bulk, is shaded by a new lightweight roof canopy supported on playful steel columns.




A new surface car-park with further underground parking below is provided here as this invovles the least disruption to the mature trees on site. MEADOW SURFACE CAR PARK


Hotel Gorizia (former sanitorium) The existing building is of merit and it proposed that this be refurbished with a new brise-soleil to provide shading to the Southern elevation. The ground floor plinth is extended to provide new visitor facilties under a sloping plane which gives level access to the building.



Kindergarten (former Chapel) It is proposed to convert this to a kindergarten for pre-school children. Lifting the roof off the existing building creates a sheltered courtyard with a new roof shading canopy.


Main hospital building (Croce di Lorena.) This building is to be partially retained for use as the Youth Services Building. Demolition of the upper floors renders the building more consistent with the local scale of buildings. In additino the central spine is largely demolished to created a new central piazza. An independent high level roof structure shades the building from Southern daylight.









Shading canopy over new covered forecourt dotted.


A.S.S Villas along Via Vittorio Veneto It is proposed to demolish these completely in order to create new grassland civic space in front of the former hospital buildings. This will be an important landmark space for Gorizia.


Parco Basaglia The grounds of the former Psychiatric hospital are opened up so as to engage with its urban context. Surface car-parking relocated elsewhere.


Former Psychiatric hospital It is proposed that this attractive historical building, with a storied past, is refurbished


View looking towards Hotel Gorizia

The Oval

The old building sits on a plinth which is extended to engage with the park and forms an invitation to visitors. It is landscaped as a civic space for people to relax outdoors.

Between the front and back wings of the old hospital a new piazza is created. This is sheltered and shaded by an overhanging roof with an oval oculus and will become an attractive and distinctive urban space for gatherings and outdoor performances.




Site plan, Scale 1:10,000 A flat piece of ground in the confluence of two valleys, the site lies along a shared boundary between Italy and Slovenia. This line is more about a convergence of cultures and a meeting of peoples than a border.

Aerial View looking North

The hospital grounds become a campus for young people, students and visitors as well as accommodating the remaining medical services. It will become a civic ensemble as a distinctive focal point for Gorizia.

A series of clearings amongst the trees organise the new campus. In the centre, a triangular meadow is the most important space and leads to the Tower House, a tall lookout building from which to survey town and landscape.


View along new avenue


View of Research courtyard

A new route gives vehicular access to the old hospital and the new medical buildings and carpark beyond.

A playful courtyard for small children is created in the space previously occupied by the chapel. This is accessed from the existing rooms around the chapel building.

Coming from the university, one first encounters the Research courtyard, a public space formed between two new research / university buildings, and covering an underground car park.

A laminated timber shading structure sits atop the existing walls.

This courtyard leads to the triangular meadow beyond, a pleasant place for lunchtime strolls.

To one side, a broad paved promenade becomes an informal meeting place as people come and go.

Demolition Diagram The hospital is huge and needs a lot of work. To make its retention viable we propose to demolish large parts so that it will be easier to bring it into compliance with Seismic resistance standards.

Spazio Giovanni alla Frontiera The old hospital is partially demolished to create a sheltered piazza under an oval oculus. This will become a focal point for the young visitors and the surrounding buildings given over to the various functions required.

Kindergarten, Axonometric

Hotel Gorizia, Exploded Axonometric The former Sanatorium needs to be de-institutionalised and a new ramped entrance containing visitor facilities invites visitors directly up to the hall door. The existing building converts easily into a hotel, many of the rooms enjoying shady balconies behind a new brise elevation.

The old chapel is a thoughtfully designed building but has become redundant. Its organisational strategy -a tall chapel surrounded by ancillary space - lends itself to the creation of a sheltered courtyard for small children with kindergarten facilities. A new timber roof structure provides dappled shading.

Flynn David  
Flynn David  

The technical report - International competition for ideas “Youth Area at the Border” for the redevelopment of the former Civil Hospital - G...