The statue of the Madonna was saved from the total destruction of the church during the Second World War: The statue of “Maria Ausiliatrice” stood, intact, on her pedestal, around the ruins of the sanctuary. This is where the church of “Maria Ausiliatrice” takes its second name the "Votive Church" from. On December 8, 1953 the reconstruction began and the first stone of the new Votive Church was laid. Two years back, after an accurate appraisal of the construction, the urgent need for an intervention to make this holy place safer for the worshippers became a priority, especially after some serious incidents of coverings detachment. The commissioned project highlights 2 major necessities to take on board: a- the structural aspect in regards to the safety of the church; b- a clear field of vision for the worshipers towards the altar. Architectural concept Designing the interior of a holy space is never done without taking into consideration the collective memory that was shaped around it, regardless of its architectural qualities. Throughout the whole central nave, a light permeable structure is projected allowing to leave the original structure noticeable; this structure mainly made out of wood will be reinforced by a steel core supporting a wood veneer honeycomb surface. The new structure’s main 2 roles are: a- to improve the church seismically at the point most critical of its edifice b- to enhance the natural light quality, allowing the introduction of some new material capable of increasing majorly the quality of the acoustic in the liturgical space. Having to demolish the crumbling solid brick vaults increases the height of the interior space, hence giving a greater upward momentum to the arches that form the ribs of the new formal system. In the proposed solution, the priority is given to the visibility of the altar, with the reorganization of the liturgical space, replacing / reducing the pillars volume without changing their rhythm yet significantly improving visibility from every point of the side aisles. The proposed concept preserves the perspective of the pillars while allowing a completely different view from the side aisles. The heavy brick pillars, now blocking the visibility inside the church, are to be replaced with 4 light small metal columns, each of 15 cm in diameter, connected to each other with 2 metal slabs at both the base and top. This solution’s advantage lies in the even distribution of the weight on the foundations. On the side aisles -near the entrance- the baptistery and the devotional area for the Madonna are positioned symmetrically: the area around the Statue of the Virgin Mary, will have a space which will host photographic evidence of the extraordinary discovery of the intact statue in the rubble of the church destroyed by bombing.
Recent awards. Winner of 2021 The Plan Landscape with the project Renovation of Punta Meliso, Santa Maria di Leuca, Winner of the Pida 2020 Prize in the Stella Maris Hotel Project category, winner in the "The Plan Award 2020" category Future public space, Otranto rocky ridge project, 2019 EU Finalist Mies Van der Rohe Prize Atelier Bagnoli project, 2019 The Plan Award winner in the Future category Office and Business, winner 2018 The Plan Award category Future Housing Project Residenza Sansovino, winner 2018 The Plan Award category Future Mixed-use project Residence Office Center The Plan Award 2017 Honorable Mention - "Culture" category, The Plan Award 2015 - category "Special Projects", Ask 2012 - Lifetime Achievement Award, Merit Award - Competition "Taiwan Towers Conceptual Design Competition" 2010, International Architecture Biennial Barbara Cappochin 2009 Award for the Care of Architectural Detail Elements.
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