Piazza Dell’Ufficio

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  • 2019

  • Architectural
    Interior

Designed By:

  • Branch Studio Architects

Commissioned By:

Caroline Chisholm Catholic College

Designed In:

Australia

The Piazza Dell’Ufficio is a re-imagining of Caroline Chisholm College`s Administration and student welfare services. Our objective was to create a space which reduced barriers and encouraged engagement between staff and students. Clad economically in cardboard tubes, the space is conceptualized as a central public Piazza.


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  • CHALLENGE
  • SOLUTION
  • IMPACT
  • MORE
  • The existing space was a dark rabbit-warren of small disproportional office spaces and a meeting room with very little natural light. Highly-inefficient and not susceptible to any form of good or flexible working environment, the mostly blue painted, late 1970`s, broken, cream venetian blind screened block provided little to no humanistic interaction for its users. Given this existing condition - Our pedagogical objective was to create a space which reduced barriers and encouraged engagement between staff and students . A space where day-to-day Administration practices could occur but students could feel comfortable meeting up with a staff member for a chat.

  • The project uses a conceptual idea of a traditional town Piazza translated into an architectural form to solve the issue of reducing barriers and encouraging engagement between staff and students. Particulartly in the area around student welfare which requires an initial informal chat between a staff member and student, which then often moves into a more private meeting room to discuss in more detail. We liked the way this co-insided with the notion of meeting a friend in a Piazza and then going to a ‘destination’ for a coffee or lunch etc.

  • The project is located within a secondary school. Given the nature of the outcome of the project – the conceptual framework and material strategy was highly experimental for quite a typically conservative school. The project has become quite a spectacle and for staff and students alike. Importantly, the impact of the project has also assisted in creating an identity and narrative within the school and in the broader school community. It is wonderful to hear students and staff alike are engaging within the space at in a more positive and relaxed manner as a result of the project.

  • Use of Materials: The project uses cardboard tubes as a chosen and cohesive material. Given the nature of the project specifies and budget – cardboard was explored as it offered a rich textural warmth and the ability to use it with ease, formally in curves and also importantly from an economical perspective [cardboard tubes were $2.50 AUD each]. The project cost $2363 AUD per m2 The execution of the material in line with its conceptual framework makes the material far more substantial and enriched than its often-temporary natured context. The central public Piazza linked by two primary monuments 1. Clock Tower and 2. Public Forum. A profiled dropped ceiling extends the curvature of the space in section and creates more intimate spaces at primary ‘meeting’ points - where dome-like Coffers occur in the Clock Tower & Public Forum. The working office spaces become the ancillary ‘buildings’ off the primary Piazza. The control of light extends the contextual or conceptual narrative referencing the subdued light cast underneath the porticos and formal archways used in classical architecture.