The new Cultural Center in Ranica, medieval town near Bergamo in Northern Italy, contains a public library, an auditorium, a kindergarten, and a school for dance and theater.
With its 2.000 square meters, the Center is conceived as a new catalyst of urban life. Not only is the building a laboratory for education and information, but it also becomes a new “piazza” where people can meet and where citizens can reinforce their sense of belonging to their territory.
The site where the building rises, located midway between the city center and an area of urban growth, is destined to turn into an important hub. The building represents a sort of threshold between the scale of the city and the scale of the surrounding territory.
Aim of this project is to trigger a dialogue between the new building, the city center and the infrastructural system. If historically piazzas are defined by the visual and physical boundaries of the buildings surrounding them, in this project we tried to open up the building to city life by welcoming pedestrians into its core, under the large overhanging volume. The large slab is pierced by a series of openings, along its perimeter -next to the main entrances- as well as in the middle, where two large courtyards bring natural light and fresh air.
The building is organized on two floors: the upper volume is cantilivered out from the lower floor, and seems to be floating above ground. The distinction between the two volumes is made even stronger by means of the choice of materials: the ground floor is enclosed by glazed and stuccoed walls, while the facades of the upper volume are made of colored, sometimes semi-opaque polycarbonate panels which allow for silhouettes of people inside the building to be revealed outside.
The compactness of the exterior volumes is coupled by a complexity of the interiors. In the wide double-height space of the library, the various program areas appear as independent volumes, connected by aerial catwalks from which visitors can constantly appreciate the central patio. The idea was to create a scenario where the links between the program areas could turn into pleasant meeting points, similarly to what happens in the streets and piazzas in the city.
+ Project credits / data
Project: New Cultural Center in Ranica
Architects: DAP studio & Paola Giaconia
Location: Bergamo, Italy
Photographer: Alessandra Bello
+ About DAP studio & Paola Giaconia
DAP studio | www.dapstudio.com
DAP studio was founded in 1992 in Milan by Elena Sacco and Paolo Danelli, graduates from the Faculty of Architecture at the Politecnico di Milano. Their office has been working for public and private clients, on architectural projects which range in scale from interiors to houses to libraries. In the last few years they have focused especially on the design of cultural institutions. They couple their design activity with the management and development of cultural projects. DAP studio participated in the 12th International Architecture Exhibition at the Venice Biennale, in the Italian Pavillion, and were nominated for the 2011 Mies van der Rohe award. In 2009 they received a mention at the Golden Medal Prize for Italian Architecture.
Paola Giaconia | www.paolagiaconia.com
Paola Giaconia graduated with honors in architecture at the Politecnico di Milano in Italy. Recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship, she received her Master’s Degree in Architecture from SCI-Arc (Southern California Institute of Architecture) in Los Angeles, where she then worked for Morphosis studio. She couples her activity as a designer with scholarly research: she is visiting professor at California State University and at Kent State University, Florence programs. Paola has been lecturing on contemporary architecture and participating at round tables at various cultural institutions and schools of architecture. She contributes to the most important Italian architectural magazines. Her articles and essays have been published in “Abitare”, “Domus”, “Ottagono” and “Rassegna”. She is co-editor, with Marco Brizzi, of the catalogues of the last two editions of the BEYOND MEDIA festival (INTIMACY and SCRIPT), and curator, since 2003, of the “SPOT ON SCHOOLS” exhibition. Her monograph on Eric Owen Moss (Eric Owen Moss. The Uncertainty of Doing) was published by Skira in 2006.