Architects: Antonio Citterio Patricia Viel and Partners
Location: L’Aquila, Italy
Client: Order of the Friars Minor of “San Bernardino” – Ass. Fraterna Tau Onlus
Area: 1,770 sqm
Photographs: Leo Torri
The competition guidelines called for the construction of a religious complex for liturgical functions and a small monastery, as well as the construction of a dining hall for charitable assistance.
The preliminary design document hypothesized independent buildings for the two activities – worship and assistance – with the goal of keeping access and internal circulation separate. Our proposal took a different approach with respect to the guidelines, organizing the footprint on the basis of the model of a Cistercian abbey and combining the functions in a single organism with an internal courtyard/cloister.
The connection between the church and the volume of the monastery, and the creation of an internal void, though with the separation of the dining hall, permitted use of the area in a much more efficient way, generating a large set-back in front of the church, a parvis exclusively for pedestrians that sets the tone, in spite of the necessarily small size of the building, of a place of worship.
The access to the parvis by pedestrians only and the blocking of vehicle access are achieved by the construction of an inner enclosure wall capable of ordering the spaces according to a precise ritual of access, while making the design more compact on the side of the complex, the facade most exposed and visible from the street.
The building has a metal framework enclosed by insulated panels of sheet metal and wood. The use of the color gray and the design of the roofing represent the architectural characteristics of the volume. The symbolic aspect of the project emerges in the design of the church facade, which activates the typical device of the Renaissance basilica, where the facade becomes a striking backdrop for the urban space, only occasionally in relation to the effective architectural section.
The construction of the facade in wooden slats makes it function as a sort of textured backdrop capable of expressing both transparency and opacity in different sunlight conditions throughout the day.