In 2012, the northern Italian region of Emilia Romagna was shaken by a powerful earthquake. In the wake of this disaster, it became essential to return to some semblance of daily normality and the case of a school gym in Massa Finalese, near Modena, provides a good example of this. In February 2013 the Emilia Romagna regional government published a competition, with work due to begin in July and be complete by December 2013. The timeframe was tight, with just five months allocated for the actual construction work. The winning project mirrors the need for speed without forgoing the equally important principle of quality architecture. The shape of the building is simple and regular, divided into two well defined, connected volumes standing side-by-side. The double height volume for the multi-purpose gym looms large, with the uninterrupted dark-coloured cladding only broken by a large ground-level glazed wall on the eastern elevation and the horizontal windows in the upper part of the northern side. The smaller building, connecting the actual gym to the separate entrances for athletes and spectators, houses change rooms and bathrooms. Between the two sections stands a patio adorned with trees, fragments of nature visible from the two corridors leading to the gym. Inside the gym, the lower section of the walls is green, while the exposed metal beams and trusses recall installations pipes, a clear message about the rough functionality of the gym. The spectator area - along the wall near the patio - is equally simple. People can gaze at the landscape through the glass, hinting at the centrality of visual impact in the design. The gym - built using a dry system to increase construction speed - is located on the outskirts of the town, close to farmland. Such a setting makes the links between this imposing complex and the countryside running off into the horizon a key element for this project. And the solution is the glazed 'diaphragm' between nature outside and the sportsmen and spectators inside. The proximity and connection with nature becomes symbolic of the hope inherent in the reconstruction after the earthquake.
Location: Massa Finalese, Modena
Client: Regione Emilia-Romagna
Gross Floor Area: 1 725 m2
Cost of Construction: 1.366.270 €
Architects: MIDE architetti, Paolo Didonè
Works Management: Paolo Ligori
Structural: Beniamino Didonè – Bruno Gonzato
Illuminating Engineering: Studio Gasparotto
Technical Systems: Riccardo Baggio
Photography: © Alessandra Bello
Paolo Didonè was born in Bassano del Grappa the 27th of December 1983. In 2005 he graduates in Architecture (University IUAV of Venice) and in 2007 he earned a postgraduate degree in Urban and Regional Planning, with the degree thesis “Vicenza and high – speed. A project for a new station”, developed together with architect Devvy Comacchio. From 2007 to 2009 he has collaborated with some architectural firms in Venice, actively participating in different projects and competitions. In 2009 he starts his firm in Rosà (VI). The first important projects are the restricted competition “giovani architetti grattano il cielo” for the magazine “Casabella”, the temporary kindergarten “Montessori” in San Felice sul Panaro (MO), temporary Primary School “Dante Alighieri” in Mirandola (MO), temporary school gymnasium in “Massa Finale (MO), and the restrict competition “Premio Maggia 2013”. In 2013 he starts a permanent collaboration with architect Devvy Comacchio. In 2014 he has been awarded with third prize at the young italian architects competition.
MIDE architetti are an architectural practice based in Venice providing urban, architectonic and interior design services. MIDE’s approach looks at the use of clean and simple volumes and lines, extreme attention to detail, finish and choice of materials. The ideas that inspire the designs arise from the functional analysis of the client’s needs and responsive understanding of the location. The characteristics of the environment and its main features are included and reinterpreted in the development of functional and creative architectonic solutions. The practice’s reputation is founded on developing projects focussing on the themes of environmental and energetic sustainability, achieved through the collaboration with experts in the sector. MIDE’s main clients include organisations such as Volvo Trucks Italia, Renault Trucks, Intrerbrau, Philippe Model, Ipercoop, Rubner Haus, Stilenatura, John Barritt, Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Padova e Rovigo, Benetton, Birrificio Antoniano, and public administrations: Regione Emilia Romagna, Comune di Mirandola, Comune di Viadana, Comune di Massa Finalese, Comune di San Felice sul Panaro e Comune di Mira. In parallel to client based work and as part of continuing improvement MIDE architetti invest in research and development, through participation in national and international design contests.