Extension of the Modern Art Gallery at Palazzo dei Diamanti, Ferrara, 2018

Extension of the Modern Art Gallery at Palazzo dei Diamanti

The proposal seeks to resolve the ostensible contradiction between the functional need for a new transversal connection wing and the maintenance of the visual relationship between the courtyard and the park.
The intervention strategy takes its inspiration from the compositional solutions offered by the Italian villas of the sixteenth-century. Among all of these, one of the greatest examples is the one given by Villa Giulia in Rome, where a sequence of architectural scenes defines the open spaces, connected by an optical axis. The optical axis and exhibition tour don't overlap, determining in this way an expansion of the times of perception and enjoyment of architecture.
The first design choices were also made on the basis of this example: a) keep the integrity of the existing optical axis; b) conceive the intervention as an addition to the existing building; c) minimise the points of contact between the new structures and existing building.
An empty space is the generating element of the composition, the connection between the existing building and the new volume. This is an hypaethral space –a room without ceiling– with a rectangular plan, placed beyond the courtyard wall, spatially defined by the existing wall and by a new wing that encloses it on three sides.
A reflecting pool covers the whole surface of this space, determining a water basin that refers to the fishing ponds of the sixteenth-century villas, a sort of “aquatic garden”. A few openings allow it to be observed and admired from different and defined points of view.
An high transverse loggia is placed at the intersection of the central axis of the garden.
This is a new spatial and plastic episode, inserted on the main optical axis, that runs to join the series made up of the entrance gate of the palace, the lobby, the arcade and the portal in the middle of the existing brick wall.
The dimensions and the proportions of the loggia allow the sight of the park from the entrance gate of the palace to remain unchanged.
The new exhibit pavilion –a lengthened volume as high as the existing brick wall– comes up beside the connection wing, on the park side. The openings in the existing brick wall, direct the gaze to a verdant scene: the sight of the park is replaced by the view of a smaller but more precious garden.
An orchard is positioned between the new pavilion and the existing loggia. The layout of this garden evokes one of the historical vegetable garden existing in that place and converts it with a contemporary accent.
At the far end of the park, a little pavilion between the trees is the optical ending of the central axis of the palace.

Date: 2018
Location: Ferrara
Country Italy
Client: Comune di Ferrara
Status: competition - 4th prize - honourable mention
Project team: Orazio Basso
Alessandro Simonato
Claudio Menichelli (conservation architect)
PROAP Lda - João Nunes (landscape architect)
W.E.I.'N Venice (structural engineer)
Studio Grava (services engineer)
Progetto Decibel s.r.l. (acoustic consultant)
Mauro Rosiglioni (lighting consultant)