Medieval tower's masterful extension by Gianluca Gelmini
The main reason medieval people built extremely strong constructs was for defensive purposes, and not necessarily for leaving their mark for the later centuries. Now, that defense against enemies is no longer a priority for small Italian towns (or at least it isn’t architecture’s duty anymore), they are left with beautiful, historical, but nevertheless functionless buildings. That was the case with a tower in Bergamo, that has been standing empty for decades, when finally the city council decided to buy and renovate it. They commissioned local architect Gianluca Gelmini to do the job, who not only restored the tower, but extended it with the needs of the 21st century in mind. The Torre Del Borgo now houses a public library, and it also functions as a viewpoint.
As far as intervention is concerned, Gelmini tried to keep as much as the original construct as possible, to let the powerful quality and structural unity prevail. New openings providing more natural light, and new wall and floor coverings were much needed. As a brave and contemporary gesture, the key element of the restoration was the insertion of a heavy duty iron staircase, that is housed in a copper-clad extension, attached to the old building from the outside. Inside the tower ramped walkways were inserted, a solution that is not alien to medieval architecture. With Torre Del Borgo, Gelmini managed to prove that it is possible to give new function to a centuries-old building with respecting its original qualities, but also incorporating the taste and needs of our times.
Source /Photos: Gianluca Gelmini
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