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Story - Auditorium del Parco
L'Aquila, Italy, 2010/2012
L'Aquila boasts an important music tradition, maintained by numerous institutions involved in promoting and producing classical and symphony music.
The April 2009 earthquake compromised all the venues that hosted such music events.
The concert hall which used to host the performances of Società Baratelli is located within the 16th-century Spanish Fort, a monumental example of military architecture whose structures were severely damaged by the earthquake. The idea of building a temporary concert hall while the Fort is under restructuring belongs to Claudio Abbado, after a trip to L'Aquila in June 2009 to direct a concert with his Mozart Orchestra. The new temporary Auditorium was entirely financed by the Province of Trento, which also coordinated its construction, and was designed by RPBW together with Atelier Traldi.
RPBW and Renzo Piano himself worked pro bono in this project. The new Auditorium is located near the Castle, in the part of the park enclosed between the Castle itself and the Piazza della Fontana Luminosa. The new structure is physically near the old one so as not to interrupt the public's habitual regular attendance at this popular and much loved venue.
The Auditorium consists of three wooden cubes of different sizes, placed near each other.
The central piece, the largest one, corresponds to the concert hall of the Auditorium and is slightly oblique: its inclination has a precise raison d'être, as one of the two lower sides corresponds to the inclination of the steps of the orchestra stalls.
The three structures are entirely made of wood, a material with excellent acoustic and anti-seismic properties and which makes possible a high degree of pre-fabrication, eventually meaning a quick rebuilding process that is not too invasive for the territory. The buildings were made of larch wood from the Val di Fiemme valley in Trentino, a traditional supplier of precious timber used by luthiers in Cremona and made particularly famous by Stradivari in the 17th century. The structure was built using lamellar wood and consists of a trellis of beams connected to panels on the outside as well as on the inside. The panels themselves are made of layers of lamellar wood that are overlapped, crossed and connected to each other using resin; this building technology is called cross-laminated timber panels. The outer faces of the cubes are lined with larch boards about 25 centimetres wide and 4 centimetres thick. The sixteen visible faces of the cube – two of the faces correspond to the support surfaces of the two service buildings – do not all look the same; they are differentiated according to various and alternating architectural criteria which turn the building into something alive, light and vibrant. The building is articulated in three volumes, each different from its siblings and yet all connected to each other: the central volume, which contains the concert hall itself, and the two service volumes: one for the public, which also contains the foyer, located on the side that faces the city, and one for the artists, containing the dressing rooms, located on the side facing the Castle.
The auditorium volume is a cube measuring 18.5 metres per side and whose maximum height from the ground level, considering the portion of the cube contained beneath the terrain, is of 18.5 metres on the posterior edge and 9.2 metres on the anterior edge.
The foyer volume is a cube whose sides measure 11 metres and whose maximum height from the ground level is 10.9 metres. The dressing rooms are located in a cube 9 metres high and whose sides measure 8.5 metres. A footbridge about a metre above the ground level takes the public from the foyer to the Auditorium.
The Auditorium seats 238 people and its stage can host an orchestra of 40 musicians. The public is arranged on two opposite stalls, the largest of which, with 190 seats, are located in front of the orchestra. The smallest ones, for 48 spectators, are behind the orchestra, but their inclination ensures excellent acoustic and viewing conditions.
The rough wood walls are lined with a series of acoustic panels which reflect the sound inside the room, sending it back towards the public. These panels, made of wood just like the buildings themselves but with high quality linings, "fly" in space, sometimes overlapping with vertical walls but remaining detached from them, while in other places they seem to float in space, hanging from the ceiling.
On the sides of the stage, two acoustic walls about two metres high reflect sound towards the orchestra.
The dressing rooms for the musicians are located on the opposite side of the foyer and access to these rooms is autonomous and independent.
The first floor contains the dressing room of the orchestra director and another one for a main musician or singer; the dressing rooms for the orchestra musicians are located on the second floor.
The different service floors are connected to each other by lifts, suitably sized for use by handicapped people as well.
Vehicles used to transport instruments and catering and for building and equipment maintenance can access the complex through the auditorium forecourt.
The three volumes face a wide open area designed as a natural liaison between the building and the park. It is also structured to extend the functions of the auditorium to the outdoors in spring and summer. This outdoor area can host up to 500 spectators.
The construction process of the Auditorium involved a group of students from the engineering and architecture colleges, who worked in the "didactic building site".
This initiative was promoted as early as in the public procurement phase, during which companies suggested methodologies and work schedules which aimed to concretely promote students' experience. Throughout the construction period the building site worked as a didactic laboratory for twenty students from L'Aquila and two from Trento. The first followed the contractor in the construction of the auditorium, under the guidance of a tutor and according to a precise operational programme; the latter followed the production phases of some of the components of the project, in particular the wooden parts produced in Trentino.
The purpose of the didactic building site is to bring students close to the world of construction, offering them a hands-on experience on how to translate a project into a constructed final product. They followed all phases of the building site in loco, learning how excavation works, how to build structures and systems and how all of this combines with the architectural aspects of the building, coming into contact with safety issues and with problems related to the logistics and the management of a building site.
The Auditorium del Parco was inaugurated on 7 October, 2012.
Fondazione Renzo Piano Via Pier Paolo Rubens 30a 16158 Genova Italia CF95086900107 P.IVA 02089770990