Palazzo dei Diamanti in Ferrara by Labics

AUTHOR:

Labics

CREDITS:

Labics

YEAR:

2017 – open

LINKS:

Labics

Maria Claudia Clemente and Francesco Isidori, founders of Labics, tell us about the project with which they won the competition announced by the Municipality of Ferrara for the restoration of Palazzo dei Diamanti. This project has been at the center of a wide debate and often the target of negative criticisms generated by a superficial reading of the contents. For those wishing to take advantage, here is a link to Artribune

Palazzo dei Diamanti by Labics, 2017-open, Ferrara

Can you tell us about the project with which you won the competition for the expansion of Palazzo dei Diamanti, in Ferrara?

First of all let’s try to clarify what exactly the project consisted of. Unfortunately the terms for the extension (contained in the competition announcement) created a huge debate and completely wrong that was misleading with respect to the real purpose and objectives of the competition announcement and therefore of the project.

Let’s start from the beginning: the project is the winning proposal of the two-stage competition announced by the Ferrara Municipality in 2017 for the restoration of Palazzo dei Diamanti in Ferrara – a Renaissance masterpiece designed by Biagio Rossetti – and the construction of a pavilion in the garden behind the Palazzo. To be precise, the competition announcement required a solution for the closure of the exhibition route (the fourth side is missing from the Palace), together with the restoration of some parts of the old factory, the most tampered with, to house several support services for the exhibition space: the bookshop, cafeteria, toilets and a space for children.
The small 500-square-metre building located in the garden behind wasn’t considered thus as an extension of the existing building but simply as a pavilion in the park. Its location, far from the building and surrounded by greenery, had precisely this purpose. 
It is clear then that, consistent with our research, we did not design a sculptural object in the middle of the garden and autonomous from the context, but we placed ourselves within the history of the monument, in search of its geometric logic, the compositional rules but also respecting the visual structure and the role of the different components.

Palazzo dei Diamanti by Labics, 2017-open, Ferrara

Your intervention is very rigorous, and it seems to be very bright. What are these two choices due to?

The two aspects mentioned – rigor and luminosity – are closely related to each other. The project is based on four concepts:

Shape and geometry – The pavilion bases its formal matrix on the same geometric logic that structures the palace, a choice that allows the new intervention – completely different in formal and material language – to become part of the evolutionary logic of the existing building.

Occupied and bare space – The new intervention is coherent with the spatial structure of the Palace characterized by an alternation of filled and bare spaces: distancing the new intervention from the wall that defines the sixteenth-century courtyard creates a new void that fits harmoniously into the existing rich spatial sequence.

Thresholds – The role of filter that the ancient wall currently serves that separates the courtyard of the palace from the rear garden has been preserved. Distancing the new intervention from the existing wall has also allowed us to preserve its threshold status, a dividing element between two natural spaces.

The relationship with time – Lastly, the new intervention reflects the condition of incompleteness that characterises the palace’s façades and the internal space. By virtue of this aspect, the new pavilion was conceived as a “bare” structure able to connect with the building but at the same time to censure its autonomy.

In the light of these choices, the project is configured as an open portico, in continuity with the garden, therefore necessarily open and bright.

Palazzo dei Diamanti by Labics, 2017-open, Ferrara
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