One of Italy’s historic cultural centres, Bologna has been the focus of an intense urban regeneration scheme. The city’s former tobacco factory has been turned into a visual arts centre - called in deference to its former name, “Manifattura delle Arti” - with a multi-purpose area at the “Salara”, and nearby theatrical laboratories for the Dams University Faculty. The municipal film archives and library are now housed in the former slaughterhouse. First conceived in 1999, the MAMBo project to provide a new location for the city’s Modern Art Museum is part of this revitalisation programme. The location chosen, a former bread factory, was a particularly difficult brief. The complex, comprising a series of buildings that had grown up over time, had to reflect the contemporary nature of the institution it housed as a venue that goes beyond the classical idea of a museum as a container, to become an active promoter of art and artistic activities. This go-ahead, forward-looking approach was confirmed by MAMBo’s inaugural exhibition “Vertigo”, organized by Gianfranco Maraniello, the museum’s young director, and curated by Germano Celant. Similarly, the exhibition’s setting, designed by Denis Santachiara, highlights the communicative and expressive use of space: huge, inflatable “arch” structures relate with permanent architectural features and temporary exhibition elements. The new MAMBo is characterized by some 8,000 sqm of flexible spaces susceptible of integration. Although renovation preserved the original structure, it eliminated the building’s excessive fragmentation, and rationalized the ground plan to create functional circulation and exhibition routes. Functional and architectural links between old and new, and between the urban and architectural scales are evidenced by new walls and stand-alone stone units within the complex. Deliberately designed to provide a minimalist, neutral backdrop to the various types of contemporary art activities, the interiors have been equipped with unobtrusive, custom-made furnishings, technical plant and lighting systems. The colour scheme and materials follow the same approach. All the walls in exhibition areas are white; cement flooring where used is smoothed, while oak - supplied by Listone Giordano - has been used in the main hall, several exhibition areas and the offices. Arranged on several levels, the public, administrative and exhibit areas converge on the ground floor foyer created from the covered courtyard of the former bread factory. The foyer gives onto the outside with a new staircase leading to the public park and public-access teaching and conference rooms, research area (the Art Library), restaurant and bookshop. The foyer also leads to the other pivotal area, a vast, double height (more than 15 m) exhibition space housed in the former bakery. Two oven flues testify to the hall’s former use. New structural steel arches permit the placement of heavy outsize installations. Leading off from this huge hall are other exhibition spaces: the ground floor destined for roll-over events while the first floor rooms hold permanent collections that can spill over onto the terrace of the foyer roof whose huge skylight allows daylight to penetrate the central hall. The lighting system, a key element of the whole project, is by Zumtobel, a company well known for its lighting projects in the art world. Designed to provide diffused light to integrate natural daylight, the lighting system also meets all “stage set” requirements in any room. Solutions differ according to spatial function. The exhibition areas have backlit panels illuminated by Tecton Tetris fluorescent lamps while track-mounted, Dali signal-controlled Vivo spotlights (designed by Eoos) provide adjustable spotlighting of individual works. Corridors, socialisation and service areas are lit by Panos luminaires with transparent glass protective shields, or by downlights, designed by Ettore Sottsass and Chris Redfern, whose streamline profile and reflector are made from a single piece of squared polycarbonate. Easy to install and maintain, they are regulated by a Luxmate Professional lighting control system activated by data coming from a light-metre on the building roof. The photocells in the metre detect the slant of the sun’s rays allowing optimal use of natural luminance and so curbing artificial light consumption. Touch panels in each room, however, permit independent operator regulation. The Unifor and Molten&C furnishing proposals were in line with the project’s overall aim. In particular Unifor, which also supplied the Vitra seating, manufactured the custom-designed reception hall: a white circular metal structure with white laminated sides and internal shelf, and a black, back-painted glass counter. Wardrobes and walls are all white. Study and work areas are furnished with tables from the Misura range with grey laminated tops, while the partition elements are platinum grey. The management offices and meeting rooms on the top floors have Unifor tables with glossy aluminium frame and white back-painted crystal glass tops, bookshelves in walnut with shelves and doors in satin-finish glass from the Naòs System range. These environments also have a series of open or closed cupboards by Molteni&C, which also supplied the ivory lacquered wood agglomerate shelves for the library.