Italmark Villanuova sul Clisi

Italmark Villanuova sul Clisi

A century-long history of Brescia

Ing. Giovanni Rodighiero
Ph. Antonio De Luca

A reuse project of the former cotton mill Ottolini of Villanuova on Clisi converted into Multipurpose Center administrative and commercial by the group Italmark of Brescia. The project of 40,000 square meters interpretatively restores the existing building by translating the former industrial area into a hub of activity and social exchange in direct dialog with the adjacent historical center.

The conversion of the ex-Cotton-Manufacturing Plant – Cotonificio Bresciano Ottolini – of Villanuova sul Clisi (Brescia, Italy) to a commercial and administrative shopping area by the Italmark group of Brescia is a 40,000 square meter (400,000 sf) project, opened in Jenuuary of 2003 as an interpretive restoration of an industrial complex. The once industrial area is transformed into an active node of activities and social exchanges that has a direct relation and a role of revitalization of the adjacent town’s historic center. The four storied structure of the project is perforated and sculpted to adhere to its functional program. Through the manipulation of the existing complex the design intent aims to maintain the austere and linear memory of the nineteenth century industrial building.

By reutilizing bridges for automated transportation and pedestrian walkways or through acts of cautious demolition that create porticos, walkways and distributive itineraries the entire warehouse complex is rendered accessible and usable both by pedestrians and automotives. Distribution is considered a primary objective throughout the design and thanks to it the functional uses of the spaces within the project are justified. Movement throughout the complex is rendered free and flexible. The accessways flow into an ample central area – clearly visible in plan and in section – that assumes the form of a truncated glass cone – a three tiered ‘piazza’ – that acts as a junction node for the entire project. This element is symbolically interpreted as a formal influence from the surrounding mountains or as a tribute to the building’s long tradition of labor.

Through it the complex is elevated to assume the meaning and significance of cathedral for those who inhabited it and for those who will. The existing structure is almost entirely recuperated, exposed and purposely juxtaposed in contrast to the language and materials of the new interventions. Throughout the complex there is a precise codification of the project’s functional program through the use of material and color. Old and new are layered, the existing cast-iron and concrete structure is contrasted by the luminous and precious touches of the new interventions such as marble, glass and local stone.

This focused and textural use of materials – abstracted from their social and commercial value – enables the creation of conceptual dynamic volumes that symbolically and three-dimensionally appear to be animated. The existing conditions are manipulated and adapted in a resolute but agile way enabling the users to feel a heightened sense of freedom.

Thus the past, as well as the present – and potentially – the future are deprived of historic weight and valued for their intrinsic qualities.