Stella Maris Institute: Building Design for a Neuropathology Clinic and Research Centre

Alessandro Melis

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This project is the winning entry of the competition for the new Stella Maris Institute, in Pisa (Italy). The competition was a two stages International Competition that has involved world class architects. The cost of the work is 11 mil. Euro. The expected year for the completion of the construction is 2020. The Institute Stella Maris in Pisa (Italy) is a cutting-edge facility for the care, recovery and research on the pathologies of the nervous system. It is a hospital and a research centre that is founded and managed by the Stella Maris foundation (, linked to the University of Pisa, the national health system and the Government of the Region of Tuscany. It is a multi-professional institution with about 300 employees, including clinicians, researchers and academics of international prestige that use advanced technologies and methodologies to assist the most serious mind disorders that can affect a human being in its period of growth. It assists children and adolescents affected by the aforementioned pathologies or disabilities which constitute a major obstacle to adult life, with serious consequences for families and for society. Among these disabilities movement disorders, disorders of language and learning (often severe and can affect intelligence and profit school), and particularly the rare but serious disorders of early socialization (including primarily autism). During the year, the Institute hospitalized more than 1,700 children and maintains more than 4,000 outpatient visits.

In order to respond positively to the specific objective of the institution, a new facility will be built in June 2017. It is the only hospital specifically oriented to the cure of the neuro pathologies of children and adolescents in Italy, and, therefore, the project responds, also in a radical perspective, to this unique challenge. The project is therefore innovative in both its architectural configuration and in the advanced technologies used in both planning and execution. The building embraces the surrounding nature through the star shape, an unconventional choice when compared to stereometry of traditional hospitals that perfectly responds to the aim of the institution. The facade is completely transparent and interacts positively with the solar radiation through a spiral wing that wraps around the entire facade. The plan configuration also allows the introduction of internal green spaces and passive devices highly efficient (energy), consistent with the environmental sustainability.

Both Stella Maris institution and the designers believe that this can be a model for future positive development in the field of autism and it can be appreciated by both the scientific community and families who are confronted with the issue. And it can be a significant exemple that can inform policies and a source of data aimed at decision making. The issue of mind and neuro pathologies, especially related to the growth age, transcends national boundaries, and we believe it is fair for the entire community share the opportunities that a new project of this type can offer. Hence it is an important objective of the foundation to share the positive aspects that may derive from this innovative path. The project is also an opportunity to share a common vision and a path.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2017


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