The Palazzo di Giustizia in Arezzo, recognised with the IAA International Award as the best building of 2002, is an example of harmony with the surrounding landscape and pre-existing structures. Designed by architect Manfredi Nicoletti, the building is divided into two distinct volumes. The first volume consists of the former Antonio Garbasso Sanatorial Hospital building, which has undergone a conservative restoration. The second volume, on the other hand, was designed from scratch and comprises a garage, archives, a spacious multi-level hall, two large double-height classrooms, a series of offices and the press room, together with related services.
Located in the vicinity of the Fortezza Medicea and immersed in a historical park, both the former Garbasso Hospital and its park are bound by the Superintendence for Environmental and Architectural Heritage. Therefore, the design of the building was carried out taking into account the requirements of historical preservation, space distribution, structural and plant stability, as well as the peculiarities of the site and climatic conditions.
The design of the new wing is a metaphor for its context: the vegetal wonders of the park and the medieval structure of the city, formerly protected to the north by the basin-shaped layout of the walls and open on the opposite side towards the squares, gardens and territory. The new building is also enclosed on the north side by a concave wall shell, a portion of an inclined cone with an elliptical base, made of Shanxi Black granite, with a flamed surface to achieve an elegant dark grey tone. The cladding slabs run along the generators of the conical concrete surface on which they are placed and are arranged at different inclinations to the ground line. The result is an “armadillo effect” surface, characteristic of certain living beings.
On the other hand, the building offers a sloping glass façade to the south, screened by the superimposition of two different curved and translucent surfaces, with vibrant brise soleil in brushed stainless steel supported by a weave of pillars at different inclinations also made of steel.
This transparent double layer allows the controlled entry of natural light, which, through the brise soleil system, is filtered and appropriately directed towards the hall and assembly rooms. The inclination of the slats prevents direct irradiation during the summer months and allows the sunlight to penetrate during the winter period. The stainless steel surface treatment favours the utilisation of natural light by reflecting it inwards. As a result, a bioclimatic silver leaf protects the interior through a luminous shadow and dialogues with the park without interfering with the adjacent neoclassical elements. The overlapping of the warped surfaces creates a diaphanous, mutable space with dynamic modulations that render the space indefinite, like a breathing architecture.