Daylight in Buildings

The Light Well - Drama Therapy Center


Elisa Montanari, Peng Qi, Hoang Pham, Simone Campana


Fernanda De Maio


Iuav University of Venice



The Light Well - Drama Therapy Center

Project Description

Our design is about a center aimed to host drama therapy sessions and all the facilities that can support and facilitate the execution of this discipline. It is thought to be placed in one of a kind areas of the world: on the lower Alps at the border between the two Italian regions, Veneto and Friuli-Venezia-Giulia, in the valley of the Vajont river where lots of destruction was caused in 1963 by a huge disaster due to the construction of a too ambitious dam on a way too fragile soil. Such proximity to the previous trauma, that still today inhabits these mountains and its population, makes it the best place to face and overcome our fearful and traumatic experiences through this singular training that comprehends the usage of both body and mind, as well as the sharing of one’s memories and feelings with others. Located near the little town of Casso, right on the edge of the cliff, our design develops on a symmetrical square plan around an open central core on five levels, with the main entrance placed on the fourth one. Through a slightly steep bridge one finds himself in the lobby with all the facilities such as the café, the dining room, toilets and the foyer. The fourth and the second level of the building are open spaces, one for collective caterings and the other for sport facilities. Through the stairs and the elevator all floors are reachable. In the very ground floor, a door leads to an external large footboard that, as a waterfall, descends right into nature. The drama therapy rooms are located on the first, third and fifth level, all thought to be enclosed spaces topped by a long skylight to let the sun shine in. The diffuse light can make the room easily become a naturally illuminated stage were little performances can take place. For a bigger stage, the first level is provided with a central open-air space. Through a little hole in the floor, all the rain and snow waters coming down from the reversed roof will be drained in a tank concealed in the foundations, which water could be reused. Our structure is composed by continuous cross-laminated walls that, from the concrete foundations, extend all the way up to the roof on the perimeter of the central core. All the rooms around the central core will be held cantilever, thanks to a system of huge glue laminated beams of 1,3 meters high that are placed in the first, third and fifth floor and will be supporting through a metal hanging system the floors of the drama therapy rooms. The central core, as well as the enclosed services on the open floor, will have non-structural walls that alternate wooden sticks with glass windows in order to create special lights effect, especially in the corridor of the central core, thanks to the light coming from the top opening. A parking area is located just at the entrance, as the building is not right in the town. People can easily park and access to the site, that is all thought through in order to enable the fruition of the building to people with any kind of disability. The panorama from the open floors, which external walls are completely made out of glass, is of 360° all over the valley, granting breathtaking sunsets even to those who just come for a visit and a warm cup of tea. The dramatic view of the Vajont dam, then, will add an introspective feeling to the experience, which is and has always been thought as an inner journey to reconnect with the most delicate part of our soul in order to come to terms with our past traumas for a more peaceful future.