old "Ospedale psichiatrico provinciale di Genova Quarto"


The old “ospedale psichiatrico provinciale di Genova Quarto" ,(called also Manicomio di Quarto), is an old asylum located in Quarto dei Mille district in Genoa and Liguria ,(via Giovanni Maggio 4).If on one hand a part of the structure,after closing,is still waiting to find its function and its future,there is a space that instead found his way and opens to the city everyday. It is the main point of the nineteenth-century complex, in part still today a residence for psychiatric patients.


In 1895, when the structures of the old Provincial Manicomio of Genoa, which had its headquarters in via Galata, became insufficient, a new branch was built in the town of Quarto dei Mille, which also absorbed the treatment of branch offices previously, such as the Istituto of Bolzaneto, founded as a women's shelter in 1885 from 1866, from 1887, from 1887 to Milan, in 1887.


The Quarto dei Mille office has the administrative autonomy body, as evidenced by the presence of an administrative archive containing documentation dating back to the year of foundation.
In the years 1911-1913 a part of the patients was transferred to the new asylum founded in 1909 in Pratozanino.


On November 17, 1927 the "Special Regulations of the Provincial Psychiatric Hospital" was approved by the Provincial Administrative Council of Genoa, a name that replaced that of an asylum. The Provincial Psychiatric Hospital of Genoa is thus structured on two levels: that of Genova Quarto, with a temporary section in Genoa Paverano, and that of Cogoleto, which constituted "a single welfare organization", with staff that formed a single role and could be moved from one location to another a management discretion. The management was based at Quarto.
The institute had a more appropriate "hospital" character than Cogoleto; in fact, all the mind-infants coming from the provincial territory are welcomed, placed under observation and cured by the acute forms; a Cogoleto, on the other hand, was produced as chronic and quiet patients.
After the "Basaglia's Law" promulgated in 1978 ,all asylums were closed,it was a rushed compromise of legislation that effectively ended the era of detention and repression for the mentally ill.
The clinical activity of the Hospital of Quarto continued until the definitive closure of December 1999 with characteristics of "hospitalization-sanatorium".



Executed on the project of Vercelli Vincenzo Canetti, the new asylum has been built by the firm of Francesco Minorini who had already proceeded to build, in those years, the town hall and the cavalry barracks in Milan.
The project involved the construction of a group of different buildings, but very close together, connected by arcades.
The building is an architectural fusion of different monumental neoclassical structures.It is organized in a square plan , symmetrically divided into nine sections which are also square shaped. The criterion is the “castrum romano“, where the two transversal and longitudinal paths are rigorously orthogonal to each other.
All the parts are composed of a large planted courtyard bordered by buildings on each side, so that each building looks out onto two adjacent courtyards.


The offices and services were aligned along the meridian axis of the complex, leaving on the right the female sections and on the left, symmetrically the male ones. Subdivided according to the usual criteria based only on the behavior and the difficulty of management could thus find 280 quiet, 140 epileptics and mixed, 140 semi-agitated, 70 agitated, 70 infirm.

Overall, the building, once completed in 1893, would have had a capacity of 700 beds; so the president of the provincial deputation insisted that the asylum be enlarged, and gave the same architect Canetti the task of presenting a project for which the building under construction could host, instead of 700, 1300 infirm. The Council suspended all deliberations on the proposal for the enlargement of the Manicomio di Quarto.
In 1889 the flanking Villa Poggi Spinola was reconverted as a small appendix to the new hospital, which increased the number of hospitalized patients by only 50 beds, bringing the available places to Quarto from 700 to 750.
In 1900 the work on the internal structures was completed and the capacity was increased to 850 seats.



"Of the old psychiatric hospital I remember the smell, acrid, repelling - he says - And then the confusion, the total lack of rights. Since the doors of the structure have been opened, here a little more life is conquered every day »
Pietro Ciliberti, psychiatrist. Arrived in Quarto in '88, he lived the before and after of the Basaglia law."In that room, down there, they were electroshocked, which is where users get the middle license.These spaces are full of history, they are a wealth of culture that should not be destroyed but preserved. And these structures can still be useful and lived by the citizens » Roberto Manfredi, health worker. He has been working in Quarto since '80: he has lived the psychiatric hospital before, and what is left of it then. (From the article: Fourth yesterday and today: history of the former asylum, Repubblica.it)

Although the whole building is the "Dirty linen" is the most painful testimony, written by hand on a sheet fixed with adhesive tape.

Today there are many projects that are in progress in the old asylum of Quarto, which involves the redevelopment of three pavilions of the former psychiatric hospital, in full protection of the bounded monumental asset,directed by Marco Macchi; a structure able to respond to the demand for health and where primary care services are integrated with those of the specialist, hospital, public health, mental health and social services.

If on the one hand a part of the structure, after closing, is still waiting to find its function and its future, there is a space that has instead found its way and opens up to the city every day. It is the heart of the nineteenth-century complex, in part still today a residence for psychiatric patients, which increasingly aims to become a meeting place. Together with Im-fi and Basaglia centre, what is called "Quarto Pianeta" has been developed. The chosen medium is above all art. This has over time attracted many artists to work with patients. Here there is a heritage of at least 1,000 works.

Today it is another world, not only for the implementation of the Basaglia law, but because in this place a good synthesis has been created between medical care and integration. Numerous street art works have been created on white and peeling walls. What opens this space more and more to the public, even young.

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