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Villa Marconi

3. Designing for



This digital collection was produced with financial assistance from Canada's Digital Collections Initiative, Industry Canada.


Home > Future > Villa Marconi > Designing for Necessity
Designing for Necessity

As Vince Colizza tours the work being done on the 64-bed extension during a spring heat wave, he explains each wall and design with loving detail and expertise. He points out, in the skeleton of what is to become a thriving new wing, how the building was designed for necessity.

Colizza, an architect by trade, was approached in 1995 to renovate the banquet hall of the original building. From there his work was extended to planning studies to “utilize the property and land and to expand to accommodate a long-term care facility.”

(Photo:Amit Patel) Architect Vince Colizza points out a statue of the Virgin Mary that was saved when the former Convent of the Holy Cross was transformed into Villa Marconi.

Colizza’s designs had to follow the guidelines of the Ministry of Housing, be able to incorporate plans for the future of Villa Marconi, accommodate recreation facilities, and create an atmosphere of home.

For example, the kitchen was built slightly over-sized in phase one of construction to accommodate the new wing that was to come later; the ground floor of the original building was designated as common space; and, the windows were lowered so residents could see outside even when sitting. The indoor surroundings had to feel like home, and, in the case of Villa Marconi that meant having a certain “Italian” feel.

"It’s important for a sense of community and because it respects the cultural characteristics of the Italian-Canadians,” says Colizza about the interior design. “We had to think about furniture, colour, fabrics and even the wood trim to try and get a European touch.”

The challenge, says Colizza, was to achieve a delicate balance between residential characteristics and institutional ones.

“It has to be durable but friendly,” he says.

They followed these same design principles outside as well. A courtyard and garden –complete with plant containers over-flowing with flowers and tomato plants – were created for the enjoyment of the residents. And, to fulfill the “necessity” factor, were made wheelchair accessible and barrier free.

In the new wing, every room will have a good view of the gardens or bocce courts and there will be quiet rooms at the end of each hall.

“We try to accommodate as many different types of personalities as possible,” says Colizza.

In addition to the group dining rooms, Colizza has also added private ones to accommodate residents who prefer a quieter meal or residents who have family come for dinner.

“The beauty of the Italian culture is that it is founded in family values. There is support and the families come out to help and visit residents, so we provided extra space,” says Colizza, who has also “designed in” room for families in the common areas and balconies.

In a few months phase two of the construction will come together, but Colizza can already envision what is now concrete and metal being filled with comfortable and happy residents.

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