amelia tavella adds a copper-clad extension to 1480 convent in corsica


amelia tavella has restored and extended a 15th century convent on her native island of corsica. first built in 1480, and now listed as a historical monument, convent saint-françois was previously lying empty and partially in ruins. this renovation project sought to rebuild the religious building while preserving traces of its history.

amelia tavella gives new life to the convent saint francois 1
images courtesy of amelia tavella architectes

 

 

convent saint-françois is located in the southern part of the french island in sainte-lucie-de-tallano. the building sits on an elevated site amid rolling corsican hills and overlooking the village below. the convent is composed of two connected wings, one of which houses a belltower. there’s a cemetery at the rear and an olive grove at the foot of the site, which the architect describes as ‘a collar’

amelia tavella gives new life to the convent saint francois 2
convent saint-françois is located in southern corsica

 

 

‘I believe in higher and invisible forces,’  explains amelia tavella. ‘the convent saint-francois of sainte-lucie-de-tallano, built in 1480, is part of this belief. housed in a height, 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.’

amelia tavella gives new life to the convent saint francois 10
the convent dates back to 1480

 

 

when tavella embarked on the project, vegetation had taken over the structure, growing in between cracks in the stone. rather than totally remove this ‘plant armor’ that had grown over time, the architect decided to honor it, viewing it as an ‘essential component of the historic monument’ that had protected the building from collapse while it lay empty.

amelia tavella gives new life to the convent saint francois 3
the stone ruins and copper-clad extension create a dialogue between past and present

 

 

tavella preserved the existing stone ruins and added a copper-clad extension that mimics the shape of the existing rooflines and arched openings.‘I chose to keep the ruins and replace the torn part, the phantom part, in copper work which will become the house of the territory,’ continues the architect.

amelia tavella gives new life to the convent saint francois 6
the new extension mimics the forms of the original stone architecture

 

 

‘I walked in the footsteps of the past, connecting beauty to faith, faith to art, moving minds from before to a form of modernity that never alters or destroys. the ruins are marks, vestiges, imprints, they also tell the foundations and a truth, they were beacons, cardinal points, directing our axes, our choices, our volumes,’ says tavella about the project.

amelia tavella gives new life to the convent saint francois 11
amelia tavella has restored the original building while preserving its history

 

 

on the dialogue between past and present, the architect concludes, ‘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. it is an interweaving of an older time in a new time which does not undo, which does not recompose, but which links, attaches, grabs, two unknown and not foreign parts, one of which becomes the extension of the other. in a sort of transfiguration.’

amelia tavella gives new life to the convent saint francois 5
the copper creates colorful reflections

amelia tavella gives new life to the convent saint francois 8
nature had taken over the convent while it lay empty

amelia tavella gives new life to the convent saint francois 12
the building sits on an elevated site overlooking the village below

amelia tavella gives new life to the convent saint francois 4
the building is composed of two connected wings

amelia tavella gives new life to the convent saint francois 9
convent saint-francois amid the rolling corsican landscape

 

 

project info:

 

name: the rebirth of the convent saint-francois

location: sainte-lucie-de-tallano, corsica, france

architect: amelia tavella architectes

 

designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.

 

edited by: lynne myers | designboom



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