The lights in the Jazz House

Location: Roma
Designer: Zètema Progetto Cultura srl Arch. Giodo Ingrao, con Arch. D. Cavarra, Arch. R. Conti, Arch. M.A. Russo
Project: Casa del Jazz
Window and doorframes: Officina Bonomi, Campagnano, Roma
Tubolar profiles: Palladio Spa, Treviso
Curtain wall: Stabalux, Palladio Spa
Photos: Paolo Belvedere
Utopia or wonderful reality? A large area that is destined to become the new temple of music is appearing on the Roman cultural scene, promising to become the new throbbing heart of Jazz in Italy.

The story of the “house” begins on a sunny afternoon during the Thirties when the famous lawyer and banker, Arturo Osio (founder of the Banca Nazionale del Lavoro) was walking along the Sangallo Ramparts, and fell in love with the magic of the area where the Roman sun plays joyfully with the archaeological remains, historic reminders of Rome’s great past. The plans for Villa Osio were commissioned from Ing. Pascoletti who, in 1940, built the elegant main building on the base of 17th century farmhouse, in rational-classic style, with lots of porches and rounded arches to recall the typical of Roman spas.
The impressive restoration work has returned the complex to its original sombre style, removing all the additions of the last thirty years. The change in its use meant the materials used had to be very carefully chosen, especially for the acoustic and aesthetic requirements. This clearly seen in the main villa (building A), which spreads over two storeys, with an effective floor surface of 1200 sq.m., it as an L shape and the short side, which has been completely redesigned internally, houses an auditorium with seating for 148, which is joined by a lift to the first floor which houses the artists’ changing rooms, with bathrooms and direction room. The long side is dedicated to all the activities for the conservation and documentation of the musical material with reserved area for the public, like the reception, bookshop and bar-cafeteria. The most important work, which, besides the practical aspect also satisfied the desire to restore the original balance of the building, was the elimination of the dividing walls and floor to make space for the auditorium, and closing the main large window which had been made during the previous restructuring work, closing the loggia in the south facing forepart of the villa with large windows, which also protects the precious mosaic floors, made in the original building. On the external stairway and top arcade, the heavy banister made in the 80s have been demolished and replaced by squares and handrail in hot galvanised and painted steel, more elegant and in line with the original project. Overall, the materials used for the restoration have been selected to conform with the historic style of the building, without neglecting the new public use: utmost attention has been paid to safety levels (resistance to wear, fire, etc.) and acoustic performance, with sound absorbing, sound-reflecting and sound-dampening properties depending on the different uses for the rooms. Very special attention was also paid to the external window and doorframes, which have been made from 20/10 hot-galvanised and painted steel profiles, with double glazing of various thicknesses, depending on the rooms, to create very attractive and hard wearing frames. Villa Osio is emblematic for the use of steel in the restoration of modern buildings: in fact, over recent years, thanks to the great progress that has been made in the field, steel is now preferred to wood for its strength and long life, and the capacity to hold very large window in a minimum of frame; in this case, the profiles with the seal groove also guarantee the added value of perfect acoustic insulation, which is of primary importance in this type of building. The second building (building B), measures approx. 300 sq.m., and is perfectly in line with the rational-classic style of the main villa, and has been restored to its Roman domus style: with all the decorations and superfetations removed, we are left with a very elegant building with a central patio which houses a bar and restaurant. The reorganisation of the building means the terrace on the first floor can now be used, previously it was just a roof, and now with an external stairway leading up to it, it gives a lovely view of the large park and precious trees. A large sloping skylight measuring 30 sq.m., made using special very thick steel profiles, covers the central patio meaning that all the ground floor space can be used. In line with the needs for style and safety of the main buildings, the external window frames along the east and west faces of building B are made with 2 mm thick steel profiles, hot galvanised and oven painted in sanded burnish brown, fitted into very large arched openings. An intelligent synergy of ideas has meant this corner of Rome has been perfectly restored to serve art becoming a sort of citadel, where cultured, visceral, virtuoso and sensual sound will be cultivated and appreciated: a house for music to be listened to, to play, to record, and to invent. A jazz house.

By Daniela Pellizzari

Acciaio Arte Architettura 24