Brixen Public Library

  • area / size 32,432 sqft
  • Completed 2022
  • Location Brixen, Italy,
  • Type Library,
  • Carlana Mezzalira Pentimalli completed the Brixen Public Library with warm materials and rich natural wood for the town of Brixen, Italy.

    Architectural firm Carlana Mezzalira Pentimalli has completed the new Brixen Public Library (Bolzano, Italy), a stone’s throw from the Duomo — a public institution founded in 1984, which, with its legacy of over 36.000 books represents a landmark for the entire Isarco Valley.

    Following on from the Music School, the studio doubles its presence in Tyrol’s oldest city by giving the community a contemporary space for learning and sharing, a welcoming urban living room that reinforces local cultural identity and instills a strong sense of social cohesion.

    The project consists of the construction of a unitary complex which includes a new building and the restorantion and annexation of the existing buildings of the Ex Finance, a portion of the Ex Court (the first two levels) and of the Ex Prison (part of the ground floor and first floor). The intervention is completed by the redefinition of the existing external spaces, two pedestrian access areas to the north and south of the Ex Finance building, and the garden adjacent to Via Bruno, which was once private and owned by the Bishop.

    Planting itself silently and extremely respectfully into its surroundings, the intervention is located south of the Ex Court, in the void generated between two existing buildings, where, before the demolition, there was a lot belonging to the Diocese. A real connecting infrastructure, the new building behaves structurally like a “tree” that leans its cement “branches” towards the buildings of the Ex Finance and the Ex Court, establishing a perpetual relationship between new and old, and inspiring the architects to rename the project, “Kulturbaum, tree of culture”.

    The analogy continues on a planimetric level, dictated by the need for great flexibility and adaptability of the spaces of a contemporary public library.

    Far from adopting the classic shelving system, the building has a double perimeter shell located between the external concrete walls and the wooden paneling that covers the interiors, and which houses most of the serving spaces: from the vertical distribution to the toilets, to the furniture with bookcases, fixed benches, tables, and more. This “cortex” envelops the space, completely freeing it from any functional obligation.

    The connections that are created between the new building and the existing buildings are tangible and fulfill formal, functional and distributive needs. The new building is the result of a mass that deforms through contractions and dilations in order to recompose itself according to the surrounding stereometries.

    Far from ​​self-referencing, the complex changes as if it were a sensitive organism that continuously adapts to the needs of the site and the project.

    To resolve the minor differences in elevation between the three buildings, the new “branches” compensate for the changes in elevation through slight slopes. The new volume contains two vertical links with different characteristics. The closed fire escape, in addition to serving all floors of the courthouse as an emergency exit, also acts as a staircase that connects the ground floor with the attic of the new building. The open staircase has been positioned barycentrically with respect to the functional masses that develop along the various levels. It facilitates quick connections between the floors, inviting those who walk through it to enjoy glimpses of the new spatiality. Compositionally and functionally, both staircases are incorporated into the “cortex”, while the pre-existing Ex Finance staricase is mainly intended for service use.

    Design: Carlana Mezzalira Pentimalli
    Design Team: Michel Carlana, Luca Mezzalira, Curzio Pentimalli, Marco Carraro, Alessio Oliviero
    Contractor: Unionbau
    Photography: Marco Cappeletti