Palazzo dei Diamanti.

Palazzo dei Diamanti, which was constructed from 1493 onwards and designed by Biagio Rossetti, forms the focal point of the ‘Addizione Erculea’, an ambitious urban development initiative envisioned by Rossetti for Duke Ercole I d’Este that aimed to double the size of Ferrara. This renowned palace is a prime example of Renaissance architecture and is widely recognized as one of Italy’s most famous monuments. It derives its name from the 8,500 pyramid-shaped ashlars that adorn its two external facades, symbolizing the Este emblem of the diamond.

Name of the project: Completion of renovation, restoration and refurbishment of Palazzo dei Diamanti
Client: Municipality of Ferrara
Architect from the Municipal Office in charge of the process: Natascia Frasson
Architectural Project and Site Construction Management: Maria Claudia Clemente and Francesco Isidori
Structural and mechanical engineering: 3TI progetti italia
Project of the restoration works: Elisabetta Fabbri
Project of the set-up works: Giovanni de Vito
Landscape design: Stefano Olivari
Garden light design: Massimiliano Baldieri
Photographer: Marco Cappelletti

Palazzo dei Diamanti in Ferrara, Italy by Cultivar - Sheet3
©Marco Cappelletti

In February 2017, the Municipality of Ferrara launched an international two-phase competition for the renovation of Palazzo dei Diamanti in Ferrara, concerning the entire ground floor traditionally dedicated to high-profile temporary exhibitions. The group formed by Labics and 3TI progetti italia was selected from among 70 participating groups. After an initial interruption of the process by the Ministry of Cultural Heritage in 2019, the project was refined and approved.

The project by Labics.

Starting in October 2020 and concluding in February 2023, Labics undertook a comprehensive restoration, renovation, and redesign project for the Palazzo dei Diamanti. This included the revitalization of the building’s interior and exterior spaces, which were adapted for exhibition purposes. The project was executed through a cohesive and harmonious series of interventions that were integrated organically.

Palazzo dei Diamanti in Ferrara, Italy by Cultivar - Sheet5
©Marco Cappelletti

The first intervention involved the main pre-existing exhibition spaces: the Rossetti Wing and the Tisi Wing. The rooms were equipped with high-tech surfaces, behind which all mechanical equipment is hidden. In the Rossetti Wing, new Venetian terrazzo floors were installed. New burnished brass portals were inserted in both wings to accentuate the spatial sequence of the Renaissance palace.

As part of the second intervention, Labics conducted a full renovation of the areas previously occupied by the Museum of the Risorgimento. The renovated spaces were re-purposed to support the exhibition activities and now serve as a coffee-shop, bookstore, educational room, and multipurpose space. Furthermore, the courtyards within this section of the complex were also revitalized and transformed into “open-air rooms” that are now integrated into the museum’s itinerary, showcasing the unique characteristics of a building that seamlessly combines solids and voids, as well as indoor and outdoor spaces.

Palazzo dei Diamanti in Ferrara, Italy by Cultivar - Sheet7
©Marco Cappelletti

The third intervention focused on ensuring continuity in both indoor and outdoor paths. Regarding the internal pathways, Labics reopened a significant connection that had been interrupted over time between the former Museum of the Risorgimento and the main courtyard. Additionally, they improved access through the small loggia that faces the main courtyard, making it an essential part of the visitor’s route.

The most significant intervention is the creation in the garden of a connection between the two wings of the Palace through a wooden structure – designed to be both essential and lightweight – partially glazed, which extends into the garden, highlighting its main geometries. The garden itself, which was conceived by Labics in collaboration with landscape designer Stefano Olivari, was designed to recover the layout of the ancient orchard, or “brolo,” with its squares and rectangles.

Palazzo dei Diamanti in Ferrara, Italy by Cultivar - Sheet9
©Marco Cappelletti

The contemporary museum.

Labics’ project is founded on the understanding that architecture is a dynamic art form, where utilitas plays a crucial role. The interventions implemented for the Palazzo dei Diamanti form a cohesive series of actions, aimed at preserving the historic building, its spatial layout, and its inherent quality, while also adapting its spaces to meet the needs of a contemporary exhibition venue. The project structures the paths of the monumental complex and establishes a contemporary idea of the museum space in the Palazzo dei Diamanti.


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