Ranica, a small medieval town in the outskirts of Bergamo, Italy, can now enjoy a piece of contemporary architecture: the Cultural Centre Roberto Gritti.
In a moment of weakness and vulnerability for the state of culture in Italy, Ranica responds to the situation by opening this new building, devoted to education, community and intellectual energy.
The recently opened centre represents a new cultural and urbanistic beacon in the territory, laying the foundations for an alternative urban organization. The building, located between the historical nucleus of the town and the area of urban growth, is the physical hinge of the resulting urban structure. With its sharp and pristine image and soft colour nuances which are distinct from the surrounding buildings, the Cultural Centre stirs the urban landscape aesthetically as it winks at the silvery shimmers of the nearby mountains and the warm shades of dawn or sunset.
The building - housing a public library, an auditorium, a kindergarten, and a school for dance and theatre - is made of two volumes, one laid on top of the other, with two interior courtyards capturing natural light and attracting pedestrians.
The building hosts a new 'piazza', a meeting point for citizens. In this sense, the project for the new Cultural Centre reconceives the ground and establishes new links with the city, making its presence felt as it rises two floors above the ground.
It maintains harmony with the surrounding landscape, which inspired its design, through predominantly horizontal lines at the floor and ceiling planes of each volume. The lower volume is transparent, revealing the activities which take place inside to passersby and stirring their curiosity.
The upper volume sits on top and becomes an urban signal. Its translucent polycarbonate sheets glow with vibrant tints and allow the silhouettes of people to be seen through the colourful, watery facade. The snow-white and sober interiors reveal a complexity which endows the spaces and the activities taking place within them with a powerful dynamism.
The interior spaces become a representation of a lively urban scene where various places are connected by a grid of paths, to be walked through as well as enjoyed in moments of pause and encounter.