Mulazzo Washhouse Restoration: A design blend of history and modernity

In the picturesque town of Mulazzo, Italy, the devastating flood of 2011 left behind a legacy of destruction. Among the casualties was a building complex that housed a fountain, a covered washhouse, and a connecting flight of steps leading to a public park.

Architect Gianluca Panichi took on the formidable task of restoring this architectural gem, and the result is a breathtaking blend of tradition and modernity that pays homage to its historical roots while embracing contemporary design.


Rather than opting for a faithful reconstruction of the lost volumes, designer Gianluca Panichi embarked on a journey to reconfigure the building complex in a way that would not only recover its functionality but also harmonize with its historical surroundings. The approach was rooted in balance and respect for the site’s history, resulting in a restoration project that is both innovative and respectful of tradition.

One of the defining features of the Mulazzo Washhouse Restoration is the choice of materials. Panichi used a mix of “minimal” materials, including concrete, corten steel, and stone. These materials seamlessly blend with the historical context, creating a visual and tactile connection between the old and the new. Corten steel, with its weathered appearance and rust-like patina, not only adds a touch of contemporary aesthetics but also symbolizes the passage of time.

The restored complex integrates new structures and elements that not only recover the missing components but also enhance the site’s functionality. The use of corten steel and stone components revitalizes the washhouse, breathing new life into its weathered facade. The concrete elements provide a sturdy foundation while maintaining a sense of minimalism that doesn’t overpower the historical charm of the site.

Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of this project is the seamless integration of the built volumes with a broader system of paths and green areas. The washhouse doesn’t stand in isolation; instead, it becomes part of a larger ecosystem, inviting visitors to explore its historical significance while enjoying the surrounding greenery.

Images by Gianluca Panichi, Dimitri Magnanini and Giulia Amadei via designboom

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