A sparkling library
There is no an always-viable solution, in architecture, when it comes to dialogue with the existing, especially if historical or of great artistic value. Dap, the architectural firm called to provide the restoration of the former Oratory of San Michele in Lonate Ceppino, proposed to expand the space and insert a new volume in the context. The new library Elsa Morante and the former Oratory of San Michele now dialogue in a perfect dialectic of materiality and lightness, opacity and transparency.
The new volume, the library, is developed on two levels as a large open space divided into specific thematic areas. On the groundfloor there is a small emeroteca - attached to the entrance area - adjacent to a little space for children. All the space is furnished with a series of modular wooden shelves and tables, all made in DAP. Upstairs, however, the space is more flexible to host conferences and exhibitions.
The dialectic between the new building and the pre-existent one is the perfect interpretation of this project. Between the two volumes there are two connection elements: a fully-glazed box that, illuminated at night, becomes a lantern between the two buildings and, on the first floor, a suspended wood-paneled box which emphasizes the attachment of the two volumes and their relationship also perceptible in the proportions (the new building is half of the existing). The peculiarity of the new volume designed by Dap is the technology used for the facade. The library is in fact a cement casing wrapped by a shell of MEVACO metal sheet, perforated on all sides. The holes, which bring light inside the library, make the architecture lose consistency from outside.
The choosen coating is a round holes - perforated sheet R10 U25,98, 3mm of thickness, later modified with Dynamic Waterjet technology. It is a technique that allows to deform the diameter of the holes on the metal sheet, to create personalized aesthetic effects. The metal cladding, potentially subject to strong thermal expansion, has been studied thoroughly in size and thickness. The entire building is wrapped in a metal skin that seems to have no joints. For Dap, the energy issue was an important question to be solved. The library appears to be, with MEVACO technology, perfectly isolated, with even complicity of a thermodynamic heating and a ventilation system under the floor.
Photo Credits: Luigi Filetici, Dap Studio
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