Architects: Future Systems - Jan Kaplický + Shiro Studio
Location: Via Paolo Ferrari, Modena, Italy
Project Architect: Andrea Morgante
Project Team: Andrea Morgante, Søren Aagaard, Oriana Cremella, Chris Geneste, Cristina Greco, Clancy Meyers, Liz Middleton, Itai Palti, Filippo Previtali, Daria Trovato
Project Year: 2012
Project Area: 5,200 sqm
Photographs: Andrea Morgante , Studio cento29, David Pasek
The sculpted yellow aluminium roof with its ten incisions – intentionally analogous to those air intake vents on the bonnet of a car – allows for natural ventilation and day lighting, and both celebrates and expresses the aesthetic values of car design. With its 3,300 square metres of double-curved aluminium, the roof is the first application of aluminium in this way on such a large scale. Working together with boat builders whose familiarity with organic sculpted forms and waterproofing made them the ideal partner, and cladding specialists, the form is constructed from aluminium sheets fitted together using a patented tongue and groove system. The bright Modena yellow of the roof is Ferrari’s corporate colour, as seen on the Ferrari insignia where it forms the backdrop to the prancing horse. It is also the official colour of Modena.
Kaplický wanted to create a sensitive dialogue between the two exhibition buildings that showed consideration for Ferrari’s early home and underscored the importance of the museum as a unified complex made up of several elements. The views out of the new exhibition building dramatically frame the house and workshop, while views from outside the house and workshop immediately reveal the function and content of the new exhibition building. The height of the new exhibition building reaches a maximum of 12 metres – the same height as the house – with its volume expanding below ground level. In addition, the new building gently curves around the house in a symbolic gesture of appreciation.
The glass façade is curved in plan and tilts at an angle of 12.5 degrees. Each pane is supported by pre-tensioned steel cables and is able to withstand 40 tonnes of pressure. The technical specification of these panes and cables means that greater transparency in the façade is achieved with maximum functionality. In the summer months a thermo-sensor activates the windows in the façade and roof allowing cool air to circulate. With 50% of the internal volume of the main exhibition building set below ground level, geothermal energy is used to heat and cool the building. It is the first museum building in Italy to use geothermal energy. The building also employs photovoltaic technology and water recycling systems.
Visitors entering the new building have uninterrupted views into the entire exhibition space: a large, open, white room, where the walls and floor transition lightly into one another and are perceived as a single surface. A stretched semi-transparent membrane spreads light evenly across the roof, and in combination with the slits running from side to side which allow air to escape and give a ribbed effect, recalls the language of a car interior. A bookshop and café are situated to one side of the entrance and facilities to the other. Both are painted the same Modena yellow as the roof and take the form of blister-like pods. A gently sloping ramp gradually leads the visitor around the building from the ground floor to the basement level, with display stands designed by Morgante punctuating the circulation path. These stands lift the cars 45 centimetres so that they can be viewed from different angles and appreciated as works of art rather than objects simply placed in a room. Up to twenty-one cars can be displayed in this open space at any one time. Supplementary exhibition material is displayed in leather cases located along the perimeter wall. At the bottom of the ramp and directly below the entrance, an audiovisual room forms a permanent part of the exhibition. A flexible teaching space and a conference room with a carved out opening allowing views up into the entrance area are located next to it.
The two-storey house and workshop built by Ferrari’s father in the 1830s has been completely refurbished. Later additions to the house and workshop have been removed and, with the exception of two internal bracing structures that have been inserted in accordance with Italian anti-seismic regulations to give structural rigidity, no alterations have been made. The main gallery space is located within what was the double height workshop. Here Morgante has designed a contemporary exhibition display system, which incorporates digital projections, objects owned by Ferrari, information panels and other material. The display system was conceived as a large-scale vertical book that allows the visitor to read the different chapters of Ferrari’s life through various media; a three-dimensional immersive biography. The system takes the form of a sinuous wall separated into pages, so that as visitors progress down the room, they are obliged to gradually discover each page and chapter in sequence. At every point the next chapter is concealed so as to maintain interest and create a sense of excitement. This organic landscape stretches through the entire length of the 40 metre long space and soft, low-level backlighting gently illuminates both it and the room, making the space intimate in spite of its size. At the northern end of the main gallery, in the original house, two smaller exhibition spaces are located next to one another. Administrative spaces are situated directly adjacent to them and on the first floor.
The official opening is set for March 10th 2012 and the foundation stone designed by Kaplický will be unveiled on the same day.