5 ideas for architecture trips to Italy

What better time than a vacation between Easter and May Day to visit some gems of contemporary architecture in Italy? Here is a brief guide to some masterpieces scattered on our entire territory: from a futuristic museum at 2,275 meters high to a Sicilian nobility building reconceived by one of the greatest Italian architects of the twentieth century.

Turin: the Lavazza Cloud and the Intesa Sanpaolo Skyscraper

Nuvola Lavazza The Lavazza Cloud (La Nuvola).
Opened just a year ago in the Aurora district, the cloud designed by architect Cino Zucchi is the new headquarters of the famous Turin coffee brand, but above all it is a bistro, a designer restaurant, an interactive museum, an interactive space and home of the Institute of Applied Arts and Design. With the Nuvola, the Piedmontese city confirms itself as a leading city in the urban reorganization and in the rethinking of industrial structures: where now there is this new Lavazza complex of 4,500 square meters, a few years ago there was the abandoned area of ​​the former power station.

The Intesa San Paolo Skyscrapere.
It is a reason for criticism, disagreement and controversy among the Turinese – so much as to decide to lower its height compared to the original project plans: from 200 to “mere” 167 meters -, but this skyscraper built in the renewed area of ​​Porta Susa is also the third tallest building in the former Savoy capital (only the Mole and the Skyscraper of the regional Administration are higher) and the most futuristic and the most environmentally friendly – so much so that it earned the LEED Platinum certification as Europe’s most ecological skyscraper. Inside the building, archistar Renzo Piano has conceived a 364-seat Auditorium, a bioclimatic greenhouse and the Piano35 long bar restaurant – with a breathtaking view of the city.

Province of Bolzano: Messner Mountain Museum in Corones and Merano Thermal Baths

Messner Mountain Museum
Messner Mountain Museum di Corones

Messner Mountain Museum in Corones.
The Messner Mountain Museum has 6 locations, but the most recent and most spectacular is located in Corones: designed by Zaha Hadid -who had already designed the City Life complex in Milan and the Guangzhou Opera House-, this museum made of glass and steel with 2275 meters of height gives its visitors one of the most spectacular mountain viewpoints in Europe. And it is perfectly integrated into the landscape.

Merano Termal Baths.
Literally: architecture and design at the service of well-being. The modern Merano Thermal Baths have been completely redesigned by architect Matteo Thun, keeping in mind the beauty of the surrounding landscape and exceptional light. You could grasp its central element to get it all: the glass cube placed in the middle of the complex is illuminated during the day by natural light, while at night a series of large globes draws exceptional undulating effects of light on the water and on the walls.

Rome: the Macro Museum and the Ponte della Musica

Macro Roma
Le MACRO : musée d’art contemporain de Rome
Foto di Jean-Pierre Dalbéra
Fonte: https://tinyurl.com/y4vrwppy

The Macro Museum.

Another case of post-industrial re-use: until 1971, this space in the Salario-Nomentano district was the site of a Birra Peroni factory. Later the Municipality of Rome moved the Municipal Gallery to these places, but it was only at the end of the 1990s that the French architect Odio Decq redefined the image of the Macro, providing it with spaces finally suitable for its new function. The new Macro of Decq in fact includes exhibition halls for 4,350 square meters, a foyer, an auditorium and a panoramic garden. A fascinating and functional treasure chest for the Museum of Contemporary Art of the Capital.

The Ponte della Musica.
Inaugurated in 2011, the Ponte della Musica (Music Bridge) is 190 meters long and 22 meters wide, and connects the Lungotevere Flaminio with the Foro Italico. Designed by Buro Happold, the bridge can be freely used by any citizen, and it deserves to be admired for its lightness and spectacularity: a paved driveway and two pedestrian and cycle paths with slats of wood, surmounted by two steel arches that slender structure in a white, clean arch, above the flow of the Tiber river.

Salerno and its province: the Ceramics Factory in Vietri sul Mare and the Maritime Station

The Solimene Pottery Factory of Vietri sul Mare.

Fabbrica Ceramica Solimene
Paolo Soleri, Fabbrica Ceramica Solimene, Vietri sul Mare (SA), Italy, 1953-56
Foto di Vincenzo Dodaro
Fonte: https://tinyurl.com/y6ad9ebz

Paolo Solieri was one of the true visionary architects of the 20th century. The utopia he would be looking for in his decades of work was that of “arcology”: an attempt to harmonize architecture and ecology. From the outside of the factory we can see the extraordinary nature of the construction and work of Solieri: forced into a small space (between a rock face and the road), the whole structure develops vertically and gains surface thanks to the “trunks” cone of the facade. But the first detail to catch the eye is the material detail of the building: the trunks, the pavement and the basement use fragments of the same red and green ceramic produced inside it by the Solimene family.

Salerno Maritime Station.
The last work designed by Zaha Hadid (together with the Scorpion Tower in Miami), the Salerno maritime station was immediately renamed by the inhabitants of Salerno as “the shell”. A name that Hadid herself would not have disliked, which in fact described the Station as an oyster with an external hard shell. Since its inauguration in 2016, the “shell” has not stopped capturing the attention of distracted passers-by and admirers of architecture. Merit above all of the structure with fluctuating lines like sea waves and its profile that recalls the silhouette of the nearby mountains of the Amalfi coast.

Palermo: The Branciforte Palace, the Abatellis Palace

Palazzo Branciforte
Palazzo Branciforte#21
Foto di Rino Porrovecchio
Fonte: https://tinyurl.com/yyl83qvn

The Branciforte Palace.

Conceived and used since the XV century as one of the most elegant aristocratic residences of Palermo nobility, Palazzo Branciforte has changed its use several times in its centuries-old history. Until the beginning of the 2000s, when Sicily Foundation returned it to the community thanks to the restoration by Gaia Aulenti. The project of Aulenti has adapted and redesigned the spaces of the Palace in function of a new public fruition (now inside it you may find the great historical library of the Foundation, a museum and an auditorium). Among the details that most impress the visitor and the architecture enthusiast, there are certainly the new lamps designed personally by Aulenti and the magnificent fresco by Ignazio Moncada from Paternò created for the library reading room (see photo).

The Abatellis Palace.
Walter Gropius defined Carlo Scarpa’s work on Abatellis Palace as “the best museum setting that I have ever encountered in my whole life”, and in fact the work of the Venetian architect called to rethink the layout of the Palermo palace-museum in a both extreme and happy way. Exhibits that stand out from the background by contrast, the paving with abstract geometry of the courtyard, the hexagonal staircase which is light in design and heavy in materials at the same time are all examples of Scarpa’s architectural genius.

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