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Music School of Bressanone / Carlana Mezzalira Pentimalli

Music School of Bressanone / Carlana Mezzalira Pentimalli

In Bressanone (Bolzano, Italy), oldest city in Tyrol, the economic center of the Isarco Valley and the third largest city in South Tyrol, architectural firm Carlana Mezzalira Pentimalli has completed the Music School of Bressanone, an institution founded in 1961, and a landmark for the entire region. 

The intervention is an integral part of a larger plan, which includes the construction of a new underground public car park on two levels to the north, with an urban crossing park on the roof. Its southern counterpart will feature a square with an additional underground level of public parking, which connects the Brenner state road – an ancient artery connecting Austria and Italy – with the municipal swimming pool and the historic city.

ph: Marco Cappelletti

A hub for underground vehicular flows and pedestrian paths at all levels, as well as the north face of the future square, surrounded to the east by the climbing wall and the municipal swimming pool, the School of Music guarantees the appropriate spatial alignment to complete the new urban plan and resolves the orographic dilemma and the differences in altitude.

In this way, all areas are connected and easily accessible, tessellating the square with the parking lot, the buildings of the Music School and the spaces of the Banda Musicale and Alpenverein associations, arranged within a compact volume north of the climbing wall. The result is a continuous parterre distributed on several levels.

ph: Marco Cappelletti

From a morphological perspective, the project approaches the historic city with its settlement principles, to respectfully reinterpret the archetype of the enclosure. The intervention, which aims to integrate into the urban fabric, is characterized by its compact and recognizable volume, within which an urban void enclosed by a fence is excavated. Located in the western part of the entire intervention, the School is spread over three floors above ground and a portion of the basement. To mitigate the impact on the city skyline, the top floor is set back from the line of the external facades, obtaining an optical effect that dissolves the perception of the building.

The elevations are also conceived as wall faces, whose treatments change in relation to the context, in order to resonate harmoniously with the surrounding buildings. The enclosure, which together with the volume of the School surrounds the large collective space of the courtyard located to the east, is configured as a two-stories volume, within which the vertical distribution elements and city services are located. In this way, the differences in elevation are resolved, ensuring visual continuity between the square and the future Priel Park, while the depth of field towards the mountains to the north and south of the area remains uninterrupted.

The project of the voids dynamically distributes the flows of users accessing the city, thanks to a strong, cross-cutting horizontal and vertical permeability with accesses arranged at +0.00 and + 3.75m. Overlooking the new Music School, the Banda Musicale and Alpenverein associations, the climbing wall and the square, the court will also serve the future parking lot, allowing a direct route to the Priel square and to the city. Accessible to the public at all times, the courtyard houses a series of connecting devices and collective services, such as kiosks, warehouses and vertical distribution elements. 

ph: Marco Cappelletti

In direct relation to the garden and the future Piazza Priel, the entrance to the School and the large foyer with its regular shape for immediate orientation, are located to the south of the building. The administration, entirely located on the ground floor, also faces the same direction. Moreover, both the functional and spatial organization modulate the degree of independence between the School and the hall with a stage, housed on the ground floor and partially embedded in the ground, designed to host public concerts. On the ground, first and second floors, there are 29 music rooms. The stairs and connecting elements, designed as a continuous and choreographic system starting from the entrance foyer, lead through all levels of the school.

The rooms and distribution elements, as well as the large central corridor from which the classrooms branch off, are illuminated by a large skylight that allows natural light to pass through the entire volume thanks to a system of double heights, and were designed as spaces of aggregation, and as waiting, study and meeting areas for students. A basement, accessible from the school’s freight elevator, a public lift and a staircase to the north-east of the enclosure, house technical and storage rooms for the School and the Municipality of Bressanone. A tunnel below the courtyard represents the future connection with the roads provided by the Priel carpark.

ph: Marco Cappelletti

The monumentality of the external facades is contrasted by a strong search for familiarity in the interior, which draws on the collective memory for the historical sites of the city. The large entrance foyer and distribution spaces appear as generous and welcoming living rooms for the city, within which one finds one’s bearings thanks to openings and views characterized by upholstery of precious light grey marble. Inviting armchairs in padded fabric are strategically placed near the service areas and the filter spaces, which are entirely covered with neutral-colored wallpaper that evoke the tapestries that adorn the rooms of the Bishop’s Palace in Bressanone. The vertical distribution elements and the furnishings integrated into the building, made of dark-stained oak wood, recall the carpentry works of the buildings in the historic center of the city. The abundant natural light, vertical or zenith depending on the situation, filters through curled curtains, with sound-absorbing characteristics, in soft pastel colors.

Made on a very limited budget, the project does not sacrifice formal experimentation. With carefully selected elements, authentic materials and a simple construction system, the studio has created a product of great technical and aesthetic quality, which respects the tradition and materials of the area.

Entirely built in exposed reinforced concrete, the building, devoid of coatings, presents a surprising correspondence between structure and architecture. By adding red porphyry aggregates and pigments (red at 3% and black at 2.5%) to the concrete, the complex achieves a colour and texture that blends superbly with the customs and traditional materials.

DATE: 2015 — 2017 (design phase), 2018 — 2021 (design phase) / LOCATION: Piazza Priel 7A, 39042 Bressanone / AREA: 6.285 m2 (gross area of the lot), 5.312 m2 (gross buildings) / PROGRAM: music school / STATUS: built / DESIGN: Carlana Mezzalira Pentimalli (Michel Carlana, Luca Mezzalira, Curzio Pentimalli) / TEAM: Michel Carlana, Luca Mezzalira, Curzio Pentimalli, Giada Cattelan, Alessio Oliviero, Alessandro Zotta / CONSTRUCTION: Unionbau / CONSULTANTS: Askeen (external doors and windows), Elektro Plaickner (electrical system), Larcher (hydro-thermo-sanitary and mechanical system), Müller-BBM (project acoustic advisor), Studio Architetto Eleonora Strada (acoustic construction), Bergmeister (Project and management of structures, systems, fire-fighting systems, security coordination), Carlana Mezzalira Pentimalli, 3M Engineering (general project direction), Studio Mut (graphics and signage) / PHOTOS: ©Marco Cappelletti

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