Step1. Analyze a work of the architect studied in PA2

The Palavela was first built in the 1958 as a sport arena to host the exhibition Italia 61, to celebrate the first century of the unification of Italy. The original project was made by Rigotti brothers, the authors of the distinctive sail that made this project so famous. At that time this was the biggest armed concrete sail ever created in Europe.

In 2002 there was an international contest for the restoration of the building in such a way that it could host the 2006 Winter Olympics, hold in the city of Turin.

Gae Aulenti won with her project, which included the removing of the original windows and the integration of a new independent building under the huge vault of the sail, that would have been restored and preserved unchanged. This refurbishment was largely criticized since the new structure would have been without the glazed of the previous construction and there would have been a new building in its inner part, independent from the rest and with a more traditional shape. Thanks to her idea, Aulenti managed to solve the problem of the energy leakage of a such a big structure: she understood that was necessary to build a new structure inside the bigger one, »a building in the building», just leaving the beautiful sail.

The new building is made up of two juxtaposed structures of different heights, linked together by a spatial reticular covering: the geometry of the sail allow bigger heights only in the middle parts of the arches supporting the sail itself. Whereas in correspondence of the supports only low heights are possible and the plan needs to be structured far from the sail supports. The result is an asymmetric composition, showing the contrast with the previous one on the exterior that has its own axial configuration. The external concrete structure of the stairs improves the sense of movement of the composition. The asymmetrical structure presents various perspectives, changing from each point of view.


The building presents a hexagonal base inscribed in a circle with a diameter of 130 meters that grows in a sail structure carried out by three adjacent arches, rotated of 120° and anchored to the ground on three of the six vertexes of the hexagon. In the interior a part is designed to receive the athletes, the other to receive the audience, having almost 9000 seats. In the centre there is the ice rink of 30×60 meters.


Gae Aulenti’s strong determined personality is reflected in the shade of red that she wanted for the building, a color that gives a power and a strength to the structure.

Its an unusual architecture, difficult to divide in fragments, it’s concluded completed space that has its strength in its unity. The two parts, even with their formal peculiarities, are intertwined strongly.


Paola Magni (2013). Perle di Architettura: il Palavela di Gae Aulenti. Recovered from

Agenzia Torino 2006 (2005). Olimpiadi di Torino 2006: Palavela. Recovered from