Complementing the Ruins with Rustic : Convent Saint Francois by Amelia Tavella Architectes
- Project name: Convent Saint-Francois
- Architects: Amelia Tavella Architectes
- Area: 1000 m²
- Year: 2021
- Location: Santa-Lucia di Tallano, Corsica, France
- Photographs: Thibaut Dini
- Project Type – Monastery Restoration and Extension
- Structural Engineer: ISB
- Acoustic Consulting: Acoustique & Conseil
- Manufacturers: TECU®, Schueco and Terre Cuite des Launes
- Lead Architect: Amelia Tavella
A restoration and Extension based project set on a natural backdrop of Corsica in France is the Convent Saint-François by Amelia Tavella, a French architectural practice. The project is a 1000 meter square of rehabilitation along with an extension to the previously ruined building that dates back to the year 1480. This historically symbolic building was abandoned for a long time, with the association of Amelia Tavella Architectes this nature bound structure has received a newfound identity.
Previously the structure housed on hilly terrain was a castle before it was a place for prayer. The renovation of Convent Saint-Francois is a blend of the ancient ruins with a modernist rustic material – copper.
The rear of this facade overlooks a cemetery while the structure watches over an entire village with a front and backstage.
“I believe in higher and invisible forces. The Convent Saint-François, built-in 1480, is part of this belief. “, says Amelia Tavella Architectes.
They continue, “Housed high up, on its promontory, it was a defensive castle before being a place of prayer, of retreat, chosen by monks aware of the absolute beauty of the site. Faith rallies to the sublime”.
Due to its geographical location, the convent overlooks the entire suburban area of the Corsican mountains. The Amelia Tavella Architectes believe that the religious context and supernatural qualities pulse within the heart of Alta Roca.
Nature has been a vital part of designing this structure. The Siamese nature is slipped between the walls in the form of stones that protect the convent from erosion and collapse. With natural vegetation on the convent walls itself, a large fig tree is an active part of the facade.
To create this design in a picturesque backdrop, the architects have emphasized the need to retain the nature around in its beauty to ensure the longevity of the monument over the years. Amelia Tavella Architectes chose to keep the ruins as it is while replacing the torn parts.
“Building after ruins is the past and modernity embracing each other, making the promise never to betray each other. One becomes the other and no one is erased. “, stated Amelia Tavella Architectes.
“I liked the idea of a possible return to ruin, that the copper could be undone – this possibility is a courtesy, respect, to the past, to Corsican heritage. I built the “Maison du Territoire” by aligning myself with the original massing. By mimicry, I reproduced the silhouette of the pre-existing building.”, stated Amelia Tavella Architectes.
Amelia Tavella Architectes traced back the monument’s journey over the years and retained the symmetry of Beauty where nothing strikes the eye. A balanced tone of material finesse is seen that tries to create a humble presence within the expanse of nature.
The design intends to be humane rather than striking. The designers ideated this monument to be a mutation of the existing Convent Saint-Francois rather than transforming it to a new-age language, they have tried to stay true to the historical symbolism of this place.
To support this thought, copper acted as a go-to material that created a soft feminine texture like stone. However, unlike materials like granite, copper approaches a sense of grandeur. It takes this outlook due to the preciousness, propensity to capture light and reflect it along with its finesse.
The rustic look creates a mystical visual connection as if the reflected light is attempting to send a message to the sky.
The material helps in diverting this light inwards where the captured light creates a dynamic illumination within the indoors. The addition of copper as a vital material transforms the space into an experience where the sun falls and does magic, to create mystic.
The extension of the historic convent pays an ode to the rich heritage of France by paying homage to the past while considering the new age. Without making a loud expression of its design finesse, the structure chooses to take a humble path through minimalistic materials and design.
Previously the firm, Amelia Tavella Architectes, competed with the Santa Teresa House located on the Corsican coastline in Ajaccio, France. Tavella has been a Corsican inhabitant who was fascinated by the island’s beautiful landscape, which is a clear influence in many of her works.
She is also name as one of the rising stars in the French Architecture horizons by “Choiseul Ville de Demain”. Along with being considered as one of the youngest top 100 leaders who are shaping the cities of the future by Choiseul Institute.
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