The Dome, a stunning new educational hub at the LUISS Guido Carli University in Rome, using sustainably sourced Kebony wood cladding for a striking, nature-inspired and eco-friendly façade, has been selected as the Public Vote Winner – University Building of the Year – at the Archello Awards 2023.

Located in the heart of the Paroli district, the project has just completed following a successful collaboration between architecture firms Alvisi Kirimoto and Studio Gemma, and completes the university spaces, providing a new learning centre designed in harmony with its natural surroundings.

Developed across two levels with a total area of 1,500 sq m, the project has been constructed from scratch following the demolition of a former warehouse. The new centre sits in a picturesque and accessible spot to the south of the University campus, close to a small wood, parkland and the campus’ main square. The building’s architecture takes inspiration from this surrounding greenery: custom-built in a style evocative of a classical treehouse, the structure blends into the landscape and creates a welcoming, homely space for students.

Kebony wood cladding has been used to complete the exterior façade, providing rustic, natural character to the second-floor siding that seamlessly integrates the structure into the surrounding treetops. Developed in Norway and locally supplied by Italian-based distribution partner ICOL, Kebony’s patented dual-modification process permanently transforms sustainably sourced softwoods, such as pine, into Kebony wood which offers durable qualities matching, and in some cases exceeding, tropical hardwoods, whilst remaining naturally beautiful.

Kebony offers designers an environmentally friendly solution for the construction of new healthy architecture projects around the world, safeguarding against the dual issue of deforestation and rising carbon emissions caused through continued dependence on traditional construction materials. Kebony is also weather resistant and requires little to no maintenance, creating a long lasting and aesthetically beautiful learning structure to be enjoyed by generations of students to come.

Inside the building, the interiors have been carefully designed to guarantee versatility and host a variety of educational activities, as well as cultural, artistic, and social events, from conferences and gala evenings to film screenings. The ground floor houses the entrance, a classroom and service areas, while the upper floor contains a multi-purpose amphitheatre and two more classrooms.  The facility has been designed to support both face-to-face teaching and remote learning, equipped with sophisticated audio-visual conferencing systems integrated into the architecture.

Resembling a large telescope watching over the square below, the project will become the new focal point of life on the university campus. The building’s sustainable design principles and use of natural materials has earned it prestigious LEED Platinum Certification.

Massimo Alvisi, Architect and Co-Founder of Alvisi Kirimoto, comments: The building is a wooden box raised off the ground in dialogue with nature. Diaphanous and silent, it allows the light to enter, mitigated by the trees and the slats. At night, expertly lit, it seems suspended in the dark like a lantern with a candle inside. Surrounded by greenery and with its permeable and transparent skin characterised by the use of sustainable Kebony wood cladding, the building seems to dissolve into the landscape, evoking the classic tree house, from which it takes not only its outline, but also the welcoming and almost “homely” dimension of the spaces, custom-designed for the students”.

Nina Landbø, International Sales Manager for Kebony, adds: ‘’For over 25 years, Kebony’s mission has been to educate people around the world on the benefits of using sustainable construction materials, and to help the world reduce CO₂ emissions by producing an environmentally friendly, durable and beautiful product for use in global construction. We are therefore pleased to see Kebony chosen as the cladding for this new education centre, and hope that this nature-inspired learning environment will inspire further ideas to solve the climate crisis‘’.