Ranica, a small medieval town in the outskirts of Bergamo, Italy, can enjoy a piece of contemporary architecture: the Cultural Center by DAP studio and Paola Giaconia, a building devoted to education, to community, and to intellectual energy.
Studio Name: DAP studio/elena sacco, paolo danelli – arch Paola Giaconia
Design Team: PAOLO DANELLI, ELENA SACCO, PAOLA GIACONIA
Area: Building MQ 2438
Basement parking and technical rooms MQ 1100
Outdoor area MQ 5000
Location: Ranica (Bergamo)
Strucural project: ING DAVIDE ARRIGONI
Plants project: MILANO PROGETTI SPA
Construction site management: ARCH SILVANO ARMELLINI
Photography Credits: ALESSANDRA BELLO
The Cultural Center – which opened to the public in the spring of 2010 and contains a public library, an auditorium, a kindergarten, and a school for dance and theater- substantiates the effective synergy between the public administration of this small town in Northern Italy and the architects.
On January 22, 2011, the project was awarded first prize by the Institute of Architects in Bergamo as the best building in Bergamo and in its province in the last ten years. The jury, chaired by Swiss architect Aurelio Galfetti, selected the project for the new Cultural Center in Ranica as the Best Public Building.
The cultural center was completed in less than two years of construction and represents a new cultural and urbanistic beacon in the territory, laying the foundations for an alternative urban organization.
Thanks to this new building, the medieval town is able to revitalize its historical urban fabric by fastening it to a new contemporary hub, capable of nourishing the surrounding territory.
The Cultural 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 civic centre rests in a strategic position half way between the historical heart of the city and the new expansion areas. Aim of the project is to set rational connections between the new cultural nucleus, the city centre and the traffic system. The open and public areas become key aspects in the project: an investigation on the meanings of ‘piazza’ (square) and of ‘crossing’ has generated the concept of ‘ground’. Traditionally, in Italy, the ‘piazza’ is defined by physical and visual elements that limit its space but it is also characterized by an institutional presence (a city council, a market, etc…), that defines its meaning.
This project aims at generating a new form of ‘piazza’ where the physical boundaries blur into the open space, creating new public spaces that welcome pedestrians, allowing them to penetrate the constructed mass, which is raised above the ground.
The centre is organized onto two levels, the perimeter of the first floor juts out by 2 mt.
The idea is that of a massive volume, raised above the square level. Underneath the volume the system of connections and public spaces mixes with the system of accesses and internal areas. The lower ground is characterized by a strong permeability therefore the buffer spaces between inside and outside gain strength and importance. Inside, at ground floor, two open air patii cut through the first floor mass to bring light and air to the lower level.
The two volumes differ in mass as well as in material: the rendered ground floor is juxtaposed to the lightness of the polycarbonate sheets that define the first floor. The simplicity and integrity of the external volume is subverted in the internal spaces, which become complex in a three dimensional space creating a ‘urban scenario’, but maintain an explicit and clear internal distribution.
The main areas within the public library are defined by volumes that organize the space creating flows and allowing people to orient within the building, just like one orients oneself within a city. In the main hall, balconies, volumes, connecting bridges, all contribute to set an harmonic relation with the inner patio.