St. James the Apostle Parish Complex
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St. James the Apostle Parish Complex

Sacredness, Freedom and Material Familiarity

Benedetta Tagliabue EMBT

St. James the Apostle Parish Complex
By Editorial Staff -
Ideal Work has participated in the project

Visitors to the St. James the Apostle parish complex are struck not only by a sacred sense, but also by a sense of freedom and lightness in this place of identity, tradition and community designed by Benedetta Tagliabue – EMBT (the architecture practice that won a competition by the Italian Conference of Bishops). This liberty and lightness pervades both the interiors and exteriors: an irregular profile, with a curving roof in different sections that at times resembles the hot-air balloons that were the muse for the design; the overhangs that extend the useful space of the building; and the texture of the ceiling that forces the eye to linger for just a second longer than normal, before looking elsewhere.

The merging of architecture and art at the service of the community and its role in the local area is apparent even structurally, which is really one of the defining, unique features of this design created under the guidance of Benedetta Tagliabue and Joan Callís, with support from the liturgist Father Roberto Tagliaferri and the artist Enzo Cucchi.

Complesso parrocchiale San Giacomo Apostolo © Marcela Grassi, courtesy Ideal Work

At the heart of the complex is clearly the church, creating a central point around which the other volumes are placed in a sequence that accentuates the architectural dialogue of freedom, intimacy and familiarity. Achieving the latter owes much to the materials, as they draw heavily on the local building tradition: wood, brick and exposed concrete. And importantly the white Trani stone for the altar and the stone of the cross behind, embellished with colored ceramic shards. In such a design, bringing a sense of uniformity of space and exalting the use of natural and artificial light requires careful choices for the floors, which is where Ideal Work® was brought in with its concrete solutions for interiors and exteriors. In this specific case, Nuvolato Architop® was chosen in a natural color to reproduce the esthetics of concrete, but with a thickness of only a few millimeters.

This material stands out for the degree of customization possible in a product that is extremely resistant in adverse conditions and to the passing of time, making it a frequent choice in areas of high footfall. Visually, the effect is of a single, continuous floor, without joints, a somewhat brutal – in the architectural sense – and contemporary look that really blends easily with the sacred nature of this space.

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