LOCATION Cosenza, Italy
YEAR 2001 – 2019
THEME Architecture, Cultural spaces, Planetary
DESINGERS Antonio Monestiroli, Tomaso Monestiroli, Massimo Ferrari
TEAM Claudia Angarano, Luca Cardani, Federica Cattaneo, Guido Rivai, Alessandro Ruberto, Fabio Sebastianutti, Claudia Tinazzi, Giovanni Uboldi
strutture BCV Progetti
impianti Amman Progetti
direzione lavori Egidio Arnieri, Sergio Gioia 

The site chosen by the city administration for the construction of the Planetarium and Museum of Science, along the course of the Crati River, on the slopes of a green hill, in the immediate vicinity of the historic center of Cosenza, is an opportunity, on the one hand, to define a settlement rule that can give new shape to the fragmentation of the city’s periphery and, on the other, for the community’s recognition of an important urban institution such as the planetarium.
The planetarium is a very special building that imposes the use of a precise form for its operation: that of the dome. The scientific principle of the planetarium is to reproduce the starry vault, so it needs a projection screen, to be as accurate as possible, turned into a dome.

In addition, the size of the projection dome is predetermined by the power of the projector to be installed. So the functional constraints, in this case, were very precise. The dome is an architectural element of great nobility and is practically untouchable in its form, which today has become a rhetorical form especially when applied to collective buildings that very easily leads to gratuitous monumentalism if not kitsch. In the case of the planetarium in Cosenza, the decisive breakthrough was to consider the dome of the projection room as part of a more complex system, represented by the museum. For this reason, the dome is contained in a larger space, a real building made of a steel truss of uprights, crossbeams, and struts, fully glazed and resting on a stone base, which can be accessed by a long ramp. In this way, the dome loses its monumental character, maintaining a representative role that restores recognizability not only to the building as a whole, but also to the place where it is located. The building (19.95 m high) is a remarkable emergence visible even from far away, which together with the new bridge over the Crati River built in the immediate vicinity allows the definition of a new pole of collective interest entrusted with the role of connecting different urban parts. The museum is defined by two distinct parts: one part built in the basement, where the museum spaces are located for the more traditional exhibition set up with bulletin boards, interactive screens, display cases, etc., which needs to be illuminated with artificial light. Also in the basement, at the front of the building, are a small science library and a study room, which open onto the large green space in front of the building with large windows set in the stone wall. At the upper elevation, on the other hand, is the part of the museum contained within the large metal structure. In fact, this part of the building is itself a large exhibition case, totally transparent, in which the large planetarium dome is one of the exhibits. Around the dome, in the four corners of the building, scale models of the solar system, our galaxy and the entire universe are displayed, as well as Foucault’s pendulum. This is the main reason why the museum space around the dome is free at full height. The metal framework that perimeters the building is built to be walkable and thus give museum visitors the opportunity to view the models of planets, galaxies and the dome itself from different heights and viewpoints. To access the museum and thus the planetarium hall, it is necessary to walk down a long ramp from the gate on the street front to the entrance represented by a stone portal, past which one finds oneself in a compressed space, that of the atrium, which allows one to distribute oneself in the museum space or directly into the projection room to take part in the celestial show. The entrance to the planetarium hall is extremely impressive. The technical necessity of having to set the projection dome (15 m in diameter) at a height of only 2 m and having to leave a working space all around the projection dome allowed us to build a service gallery inside the dome in reinforced concrete, which supported the geodesic structure of the projection dome. This solution means that upon entering the planetarium hall there is an abrupt change of scale, moving from the compressed height of the gallery, to the domed vaulted space of the projection hall, generating quelsentimento of wonder and amazement proper to architecture.

Photo by Marco Introini and Tomaso Monestiroli


L. Cardani (edit by) Studio Monestiroli  Opere e progetti di Architettura Electa Milan 2021

CASABELLA N899-900 2019


Monestiroli Architetti Associati. Aule Parma  2014

D. Nencini (edit by)  Innovazione e tradizione: osservatorio sulla ricerca in architettura in Italia Prospettive Edizioni Rome 2013



AR-02 2004



D’ARCHITETTURA rivista italiana d’architettura N17  2002