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David Chipperfield beats Fosters to win University of Padua campus contest

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David Chipperfield Architects’ Milan office has won an international competition for a landmark new campus for the University of Padua in northern Italy

The Italian studio of David Chipperfield’s practice defeated a shortlist of rival firms which included Sauerbruch Hutton and Foster + Partners to land the prestigious commission.

Chipperfield’s winning scheme will create a new social and economic sciences campus – dubbed ‘PiaveFutura’ – for the ancient university, which was founded in 1222 and where Galileo Galilei once taught.

The project will transform the 50,000m² former Caserma Piave barracks located to the west of Padua’s historic centre. The winning proposal incorporates several historic buildings on the site, including the former Sant’Agostino convent.

According to a statement from the practice: ‘David Chipperfield Architects Milan’s winning scheme proposes both the recovery of historic buildings for teaching, administrative and research activities, and the introduction of a new building at the centre of the campus.

‘Elliptical in form, the new pavilion sits partially underground and will serve study, catering, and conference activities. The architectural concept is rooted in the idea of a building that will serve both the university and the city, acting as a “social condenser”.

‘Reference to the historic architecture of Padua, such as Prato della Valle and the botanical garden buildings, is a clear source of inspiration for the proposal and evident in the design.’

The appointment comes two years after the practice was chosen to overhaul an iconic 16th-century building overlooking St Mark’s Square in nearby Venice.

Other architects participating in the University of Padua contest included Lisbon’s Bak Gordon, Barozzi Veiga of Barcelona and Seville-based Cruz y Ortiz Arquitectos.

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