Cusanus Academy

  • area / size 107,630 sqft
  • Completed 2020
  • Location Bressanone, Italy,
  • Type Schools,
  • MoDusArchitects adopted a subtle design strategy for the renovation of and addition to the Cusanus​ Academy located in Bressanone, Italy.

    Located along the Isarco river in the eastern part of the city, the​ Cusanus Academy comprises three buildings: Paul​ Norz Haus,​ Mühlhaus,​ and​ Haupthaus​,​ or Main Building,​ originally​ designed by the locally renowned architect Othmar Barth (1927-2010)​— the first modern building listed under the protection of the historic preservation commission of the Province of Bolzano.

    The architects were called upon to design a careful and balanced renovation that could absorb a host of technical and code related requirements without compromising the integrity of the Academy.​ More specifically, the need for greater accessibility prompted the architects to rethink the vertical and horizontal circulation as a network of social, more public spaces. The project traces a fine line between that which appears to belong to the original buildings (invisible) and that which emerges as new, more clearly stated interventions (visible).

    The​ careful grammatical construction of the project converges in an abstract order with the real dimensions of the concrete structural frame, the exposed brick walls and pavers, and the travertine slabs into a unified whole.​ Intervening in such a complete, and accomplished project proved to be a daunting task for MoDusArchitects.

    The double height, concrete vaulted space of the Haupthaus located on the first floor is the architectural centerpiece of the entire complex and, not surprisingly, serves as the touchstone for the tone and overall approach of the renovation.

    On the ground floor, the new North-South axis eliminates the dead-end corridor and connects the main entryway down through to the dining hall to form an articulated throughway punctuated by the newly introduced coffee shop and courtside entry area, pockets of informal seating, and views into the only seminar room located on this level. The​ generous hallway embodies the ambition of the project to foster a more welcoming environment without stepping outside of the constructive logic of the building.​

    The sleeping rooms hosting up to 96 guests are located on the upper floors of the Paul Norz Haus, the Mühlhaus and the Haupthaus’ flanking, long sides.​The 55 rooms of different sizes and capacities are distinguished by blue hues in the Paul Norz Haus, pistachio green in the Mühlhaus, whereas the Haupthaus rooms highlight Othmar Barth’s original furnishings or variations thereof. In the main building, the balconied corridors accessing the guest rooms look onto the main central hall and are bookended by the Chapel to the North and another large conference hall facing South whose split level position can be opened up via a movable partition wall to the central vaulted space.

    Architect: MoDus Architects
    Contractor: CarronBau
    Photography: Gustav Willeit