LOCATION Limbiate, Milan, Italy
YEAR 1998
THEME Architecture, Sport spaces, Sports hall
STATUS Project
DESIGNERS Antonio Monestiroli
TEAM  Massimo Ferrari, Tomaso Monestiroli
structures Davide Castiglioni

The sports hall is a collective place that has its unity related to the unity of its function and its centrality, the centrality of the field in which that function takes place. The architecture of the arena is entrusted with the role of constructing and representing that unity and that centrality. The elements that play this role are two: the roof and the fence. The roof mainly defines the common place, a place covered by its large unified surface and bounded, at its perimeter, by the pillars that support it. To enter the building is to cross the projection line of the roof, the line marked by the pillars that distinguishes outside from inside. The pillars that support the roof are arranged in a double row. An outermost row formed by cylindrical pillars with a diameter of 0.50 meters, 10 meters high, with a spacing of 6 meters 45.

An innermost row formed by rectangular-section pillars 8 m high, with a spacing of 4.30 m. The inner row of pillars is tighter than the outer row, the intercolumn has different proportions, a different order. This is due to static reasons (these pillars work more than the others) but also to compositional reasons: the inner pillar perimeter was given a stronger delimiting role than the outer one. The innermost pillars support the roof beams (2 m high and 42 m long lattice girders, crossed with 49 m long stiffening beams) on which rests a roof slab that extends to the outermost perimeter of the cylindrical pillars (47 x 56 m). This creates a high porch that runs all around the hall and forms the link between the interior and exterior of the building. Under the large roof, immediately inside the portico, is the second element to which a constituent role is attributed: the enclosure. This is formed by a 5.40-meter-high wall that contains the bleachers and the playground, where the activities for which the building is constructed take place. This wall, which does not reach the roof but keeps below, at the entrance located on the longitudinal symmetry axis of the field opens outward, creating an atrium. Since the field enclosure wall and the roof remain detached (this is important to emphasize that the enclosure is distinguished from the roof) it is necessary to enclose the hall with a glazing. A stained-glass window that rests at the highest elevation of the steps and, at that elevation, allows exit to a balcony overlooking the outside porch. At the entrances the glazing descends to the ground, leaving the building completely transparent along the longitudinal axis of the court. Inside, two parallel, opposing bleachers hold 1,200 spectaculars. Between the two bleachers, the field can vary in size and can be used for different games (basketball, volleyball, handball) but also for performances and assembly meetings.The theme addressed in this project therefore, beyond the specific functions of the sports hall, is the theme of the classroom: of the construction of a large unified place in which a common activity takes place. The two main elements of its construction, the roof and the fence and their relationship to each other, define the character of the place. The roof is built with white-painted steel beams and pillars; the fence is constructed of reinforced concrete and covered with large slabs of green Levanto marble, a precious material meant to emphasize the civic value of the place. The bleachers, like the playground floor, stairs and other interior spaces, are covered in wood. In the false ceiling, made of prefabricated lightened concrete slabs painted white, are recessed lamps that uniformly illuminate the large hall. The continuous glazing is constructed of painted aluminum frames that can be opened vertically.


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