In Collegno, in the province of Turin, a Center for Dance Excellence has opened in a former steam launderette, taking on “Lavanderia a Vapore” as its evocative brand name, and giving new life to a beautiful venue for open air musical, theatrical, and dance shows for an audience of up to five thousand people.
The launderette building was designed and built by engineer Luigi Fenoglio between 1870 and 1875, originally as a structure for Turin’s Royal Asylum.
In those years, “the Royal Government responded to the demands from the management of Turin’s Asylum, who needed a large part of the magnificent Collegno Charterhouse Convent – which had been handed over by the [Carthusians] – to be turned into a secondary branch of the charitable institution […] The Collegno Charterhouse enjoyed good weather and could offer a large, articulated, pleasant building, with constant and pure running water as well as gardens, fields, and vast lawns” (“Giornale delle scienze mediche”, vol. XIV, Fontana, Turin 1852).
In 2004, an extensive renovation “brought the building back to its original layout, including the restoration of the brick factory and chimney’s 19th-century decorations […] and the recovery of interior spaces, which featured a remarkable central nave. Systems and equipment were added to the various areas to make them usable, always with sobriety and minimizing the technological elements required by contemporary life” (A. Besso-Marcheis, “Recupero prudente e sostenibilità. Il caso della Certosa Reale di Collegno”, Franco Angeli, Milan 2014).
So in the end, although a completely different place has opened in place of a steam launderette, everything has changed without losing any of history’s beauty and value.