LOCATION Torricella Peligna, Chieti, Italy
YEAR 1985
THEME Architecture, Cultural spaces, Sala civica
STATUS Project
DESIGNERS Antonio Monestiroli, Antonio Paolucci

The lot designated for the construction of the civic hall is included in a building curtain at the mouth of corso Umberto on the east side of the Torricella-Roccascalegna municipal road. The characters of the site are strongly determined by the relationship between corso Umberto, which is the dominant structure of the town center, and the surrounding landscape. The corso, which is a nineteenth-century expansion of an older nucleus, has dimensions adequate not only for transit but also for the permanence of citizens. And it is characterized by two building curtains composed of terraced houses built on a narrow lot (the average elevation is three windows) two to three stories high, which have a double overlook, on the corso and the valley.

Among these buildings are some very beautiful ones whose domestic character is emphasized by fixed and repeated decorative elements. At the end of the course is the main church; on the opposite side the street branches off in three directions, the middle of which continues into a tree-lined pedestrian avenue leading to a pine forest, the town’s park and a regional tourist destination. The civic hall is located just opposite the entrance to the tree-lined avenue. This particular place will have to take a form that realizes its vocation to be a meeting place. The construction of a fountain could make the character of the place evident and recognizable. On the axis of the fountain, across the street, placed neatly in the building curtain, the civic hall turns its front toward the center and its back toward the valley and connects through itself the two contexts that confront each other within the hall. The civic hall has not one specific purpose but many different ones that must be compatible with its form. From library to meeting room to hall for exhibitions, lectures, debates, screenings, and parties, these functions must take place, alternately, in one place. The type that corresponds to such a program is the classroom, a single space without fixed divisions, adaptable with appropriate furniture to each of the planned activities. The size and architecture of the classroom must be such as to represent the purpose of the construction, which does not coincide with any of the particular activities but summarizes them all: we can say in general that the classroom is constructed as a place of meeting and that everyone will have to recognize in it this character. Otherwise the project will not have achieved its purpose. In addition, the construction of a public building in a residential curtain raises the problem of its insertion, of how to break its continuity, of how to establish the relationship between the domesticity of the dwellings and the courtly character of the collective building. This character is a necessary attribute of any public building through which it is intended to recognize a general and stable value contained in it. The hall is bounded on three sides by a perimeter wall and is divided into two parts: the first uncovered and open to the course has the function of an atrium, the second covered with a metal coffered roof. The atrium turns out to be an extension of the classroom and is the space needed to establish its relationship to the street. The perimeter wall is supported by the buildings of the building curtain. The wall interrupts it and defines the place on which the classroom faces. This overlooks the atrium through a full-height window that allows the roof to be recognized as the main building element. Toward the valley a large window, still high to the roof, establishes the relationship with the surrounding countryside. The result is a place defined by a perimeter wall and a roof in which a visual relationship with the course and the valley is established at the same time. The dimensions of the hall are 8 x 16 m, of the atrium 8 x 8 m. The height of the perimeter wall, determined by the ridge height of the adjacent roofs that are to be contained in it, is 8.30 m. The height of the hall is 5 m and is proportionate to its plan dimensions. The metal roof is thus embedded in a higher perimeter wall. Toward the valley due to the steep slope of the land, the building will take on the appearance of a tower, a specified volume that aligns with those of the existing buildings. The structure of the building is made of reinforced concrete, according to current earthquake-resistant standards, is clad for the above-ground part with a single-headed exposed brick wall both outside and inside the classroom. The choice of exposed brick is due to the desire to use a nonperishable material that has its own durability. It could be stone but given its easy availability and its great use in the area, exposed brick seems more suitable. The floor slab on the ground floor is reinforced concrete while the roof slab is constructed of iron, with crossed lattice girders covered with painted sheet metal. The window and door frames are made of prepainted sheet metal with athermic glass. The lobby floor is covered with travertine slabs. The services, in order not to contradict the necessary unity of the classroom, are located in an adjacent two-story high building that fits into the building curtain resolving the connection of the classroom with it. In the basement are classroom services, technical rooms and a freight elevator serving a storage room. On the ground floor an office with independent access from the street is connected, in addition to the hall, with a room on the second floor which, having its own service, can also be used as a small dwelling. Below the hall a large garage has its own access from a ramp connecting it with the road downstream.


Massimo Ferrari (edit by) Antonio Monestiroli Opere, progetti e studi di architettura Electa Milan 2001

Francesco Moschini (edit by) Antonio Monestiroli Progetti 1967-1987 Edizioni Kappa Rome 1988