27 Sep 2021 • Institutions
This monolithic, Italian music school sits in harmony with its mountainous surroundings
Mitigating its impact on the city skyline, The Music School of Bressanone responds to the existing urban complexity through a new building designed by Carlana Mezzalira Pentimalli.
Founded in 1961, Wunderkammer: The Music School of Bressanone is a cultural landmark that’s in one of the oldest cities of Italy’s South Tyrol. As such, the architects have made every attempt to respect the project’s location, firstly by lessening its impact on the current skyline. Situated upon a strikingly mountainous terrain, the school is spread over three floors but contained within a relatively compact and largely linear volume, which features a pigmented reinforced concrete with porphyry aggregates and a subtle hand-hammered pattern to blend seamlessly with the ancient urban fabric. To further achieve its objective, the studio has set the top floor behind the school’s external facades creating the illusion of it disappearing into the horizon.
To counter the severity of the shell, inside visitors are welcomed by light-filled and intimate interiors. Communal areas, for example, are all lined with pale grey marble to create a harmonious and visually cohesive experience while drawing inspiration from the city’s historical architecture. Elsewhere, service areas are decorated with neutral-coloured wallpaper to evoke tapestries hung in the Bishop's Palace in Bressanone. Finally, staircases navigating the school’s various programmes are made from dark-stained oak to recall the carpentry found in the historical city centre.
Carlana Mezzalira Pentimalli has overcome the challenge of a relatively modest budget with its use of raw but still authentic materials, and a simple construction system. These indivisible elements support the studio’s belief that urban architecture, rather than dictate its surroundings, should contribute to the community by giving back a collective space. It aligns with the very idea of the wunderkammer, referencing the historical period in which the private collections opened to the general public. ‘In the same way, we understood architecture as a community environment available to all,’ says the studio.