CASA WonderLAD


Location: Catania (I)
Client: LAD Onlus
Year: 2014
Status: 2nd Prize

Published project:
“Architecture for Solidarity”, Interni Magazine 1/2 (2015): 69-70

 

Casa WonderLAD comprises several functions with both therapeutic and receptivity scopes for children with serious illness.


The project develops through a holistic approach and is based on the belief that well planned spaces, macro and micro quality together and the right mix of activities directly influence the fruition experience and positively impact the guest’s stay.

 

The assigned area is located at half way between the two hospitals of Catania: ideally, the two axes that from the hospitals connect to the parcel, pinpoint the core of Casa Wonderlad.


The building, with a rigid facade, opens itself on a inner winter garden, characterized by a rounded, almost playful shape. The winter garden is the spatial core for the Wonderlad community: a semipublic, bright space, around which three functional blocks - administration, residences and therapy - revolve. The winter garden has a double function: first of all, it’s a space of relax and relation around which a community can grow. Therefore, it’s a permeable space: the diverse activities can move from indoor to the garden as well as the green and the light can penetrate the indoor spaces through the large glass facade. A lamellar roof allows the light to shine in on this ideal square. Secondly, the winter garden works as a microclima control system. Openings positioned within the roof and the facade play an important role to enhance the natural ventilation and favor the stack effect. The green provides the right amount of humidity.

 

The three functional blocks are entirely dedicated to therapeutic, recreational and administrative functions. At the first level of the north-west block, six expandable and reconfigurable residences are located: they are connected to the winter garden through an aerial way. On the opposite side of the building, two green terraces equipped with shaders and aerial green, define the entrance to the building and invite the public inside.

 

Casa WonderLAD is a fully sustainable building, served by a series of technologies that make it earn self-sufficiency. Geothermal and PV energy production together with water recovery bring down the consumptions. The PV system, with its extension, fully covers the building energy needs, conveying any production surplus in the public network.


Fully sustainable materials are exploited for the complex construction: Beech lumber is used for the vertical structures which are coupled with a ventilated facade in lamellar wood that also create a three-dimensional decoration. For the winter garden adobe and natural finish colors with a specific palette are applied to the facades.

 

The design for the exterior areas, accessible to a larger public of institutions and organizations upon program, aims to create spaces that are not only pleasant but also able to convey importance to the complex. As first example of structure to receive children with serious illness, in fact, Casa WonderLAD can and shall represent a reference for both Catania and whole Southern Italy.


For this reason, the exterior space is organized upon a scale of protection levels and dedicated to rural and educational activities.


Synergic vegetable gardens, greenhouses and the children citrus grove, focused on urban farming, are located in the zone up northwest and therefore as far as possible from the public street and the entrance. Here the young guests will have the possibility, together with the local community, to engage in rural activities. A rural approach, well established in the mediterranean culture, is not only intended as “rural activities with therapeutic purposes”, but rather as a methodology for transmitting a cultural heritage of inestimable value that need to be reinterpreted and innovated.