Understanding, believing and dialogue. Z33 House for Contemporary Art, Design and Architecture by Francesca Torzo

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Design team
Marco Guerra, Riccardo Amarri, Pablo Brenas, Lorenzo Gatta, Liaohui Guo, Cyril Kamber, Besart Krasniqi, Antoine Lebot, Jovan Minic, Andrea Nardi, Anna Oliva, Anna Optiz, Costanza Passuello, Alessandro Pecci, Domenico Singha Pedroli, Nicola Torniamenti, Gion Von Albertini, Előd Zoltan Golicza.
Conzett Bronzini Partner (facade structural advisor).- Gianfranco Bronzini.
Lighting.- Ben Boving.
Petersen Tegl (brick advisor).- Christian A. Petersen.
Bekaert (reinforcement advisor).- Christian Vanneste.
Knauf (mortar advisor).- Mansour Marchouh.
Omnicol (mortar advisor).- Paul Van Erp.
Weber (pigmented mortar advisor).- Stephan Piquer.
Reynaers (window advisor).- Stephen Daems.
Imtech (air installations advisor and subcontractor).- Wilfried Bleus, Quirijn Jammaer.
Izé (iron and handles advisor).- Dave Bradshaw.
Z33 and Provincie Limburg.
THV Houben Belemco (contractor Houben).- Kristof Mutert.
THV Houben Belemco (contractor Belemco).- Michiel Wielockx.
Total area.- 12282 m². Usable floor area.- 4664 m².
2012-2017-2019. Opening.- March14 th, 2020.
1500 €/m².
Z33 - House for Contemporary Art, Design & Architecture. Bonnefantenstraat 1, 3500 Hasselt, Belgium.
LatLng.- (50.9325398, 5.339934).
Gion Balthasar von Albertini. Olmo Peeters.

Francesca Torzo

Francesca Torzo (1975 in Padova, Italy) established her own studio in Genova in 2008. She has studied architecture at the TU Delft, ETSAB Barcelona, AAM in Mendrisio, and the IUAV in Venice. She has been working for Peter Zumthor in Haldenstein and Bosshard Vaquer in Zurich and has been a teaching assistant for Atelier Bearth at the Accademia di Architettura di Mendrisio in Switzerland. Since 2017 she is holding a professorship at the Bergen School of Architecture in Norway and in 2020 at the Accademia di Architettura di Mendrisio.

Torzo has been part of the 16th architecture Biennale in Venice, Freespace curated by Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara in 2018 and was appointed chairman of the Maarten Van Severen Foundation in Ghent between 2018 and 2019.

She received the WA Moira Gemmill prize in 2020. Her project for the extension of the Z33 in Hasselt has been awarded with the International Piranesi award in 2018, as well as with the Italian Architecture prize in 2020. The project has also been nominated for the Mies van der Rohe award of 2020.

The studio consists of a small international team of young architects with a core of few stable ones and a high turnover of the others. Collaborators are named project architect for individual assignments, but they are required to train knowledge and awareness of all projects running in the office. Such an approach calls for an honest and straightforward engagement. The choice of entrusting with the combination of individual responsibility with a common dialectic is grounded on the belief that thoughts need to be daily exposed to a critical process in order to achieve a shareable clarity.

The teaching and the academic research, the collaboration with builders and the design practice challenge and influence each other in the perspective of building a public discourse, which may support the awakening of curiosity for understanding our way of living and confidence in taking responsibility for it.

The studio has intentionally chosen for more than 10 years a defiladed position to gain the time and the necessary quietness to focus on the work.
The process of design starts for us from an understanding of the material constraints and of the cultural context where we are called to operate. The goal is that of formulating the primary spatial relations, which have to be preserved as a narrative through the complete process. We start from a kind of “nebula”, diffused yet made of atoms and molecules. We draw over and over chasing a vision of something that does not exist yet but that hosts the world we live in and its memory. This activity of collecting, hunting, and discerning demands patience and a sort of empathy with the contradictions of human life.



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