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Santa Maria a Monte

Bank restoration project

Intervening on a pre-existence means working on a quantity of already given design signs that can be rejected or, on the contrary, maintained, in relation to the importance we attribute to them, avoiding that the comparison with the established order of an existing architecture is paralyzing for the new design.

The first operation was precisely a critical analysis, to understand which elements constituted the essence of the existing façade, whose ordering criterion necessarily shines through them. The previous elevation was set up according to a consolidated scheme, substantially the same every time it is proposed again: a plan divides the surface into two equal parts, which in turn are then divided into two again, according to a usual and now "worn out" operation , repeated with countless variations in the world of architecture. This first division of the surface limits the subsequent field of action to a superficial variation of detail elements; in this case a large glass window divided the façade, imposing a sign that could only give rise to a rigidly symmetrical layout, according to two axes perpendicular to each other, which ordered the space into squares, each of which was occupied by a window. The new project tends to reconsider this repetitive schematization in favor of a freer approach which, without limiting itself to studying signs for a surface, thinks of the elevation not only in terms of height and width, but as something that also has a sensorial, evocative dimension and material. The intention is to consider the new facade as a diaphragm that completely reinterprets the building through the materials and through a design that binds the parts into a single whole, looking for an element (the curved sign that is impressed on the glass) that takes on the meaning of intermediary, of element that restores an interrupted continuity. The building gets a new skin of the warm brown of cortain steel, a color that becomes almost golden at dusk, when the sun illuminates it with grazing light and the building takes on an unexpected shine. A different perception occurs at night, however, when the cold color of the stainless steel and glass that marks the top of the structure dominate, in an evanescent conclusion towards the sky: the solid parts are canceled out in the darkness and the lights take over ice-colored that are reflected on the metal surfaces. Therefore internal lights of the bank and lights of the nocturnal environment, such as the evanescent stripes of car headlights, a sign of which can be found on the facade, in the long luminous cuts that mark the façade horizontally.

This architecture comes to have a double life: closed and monolithic during the day, it opens towards the outside at night, illuminating the small square and suggesting the idea of ​​a microcosm that still lives in the structure, an activity that continues and which in fact offers to customers night services, such as ATMs and continuous cash. The comfortable public space, due to the building's retreat from the street, becomes a small island, a "void", located so "full" of construction, which invites you to escape from the chaos of the busy thoroughfare in front; it is a space designed as an urban micro-environment, where the materials and detail choices express the design intention of giving a new meaning to this small area which stops being a cutout in the urban fabric to become a small public space , enhanced by the presence of sculptures that have always carried with them the idea of ​​the square.

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