LOCATION Brescia, Italy
YEAR 2002
STATUS Competition
DESIGNERS Antonio Monestiroli, Tomaso Monestiroli
TEAM Massimo Ferrari, Luciano Lussignoli, Francesco Bonomi, Flavio Buonopane, Artemio Apollonko, Francesco Apollonio, Afra Bergamaschi

The definition of a tower building that we find most effective is the one attributed to Bramante, referring to Filarete’s designs, of a building that “looks far and is seen from afar.” This definition ties together the tower and the area in which it is located. Its typology and form refer to its relationship to place. Tall buildings become urban elements of orientation just like the towers in the ancient city. An extraordinary plan that still defines the forma urbis of some large cities today. So tower buildings, their relationship to the land, are very different from skyscrapers as they are understood in America, in Chicago or New York.

As Manfredo Tafuri says in his famous 1973 essay on the American skyscraper, this building type “takes meaning from its being together with others, in a system in which each one compares its individuality not so much with the territory but with other skyscrapers.” Its strength lies in repetition on the one hand and in the freedom of formal expression, distinctive to each, on the other. So it can be argued that between tower building and skyscraper there is a difference. There are two important tall buildings in Milan: the Velasca tower and the Pirelli skyscraper. No one would ever say the Pirelli tower and the Velasca skyscraper, precisely because the two buildings interpret the two characters of tall buildings differently. The Velasca tower is isolated and is a place from which to look out into the distance and is clearly visible from afar. The Pirelli skyscraper is built on a logic that is entirely internal to the building type, referring to the comparison with other skyscrapers in a hypothetical business center now being built. So its form is fulfilled in the design that best emphasizes its unique character, which in this case is height. Our tall building designs have always been tower buildings, and never skyscrapers, giving importance to the tower’s place of construction and its relationship to its context. This is a quest that we are still passionate about today and could be discussed and experimented with if the city regained a sense of its construction as a work of art. Today it seems that tower buildings no longer have their role: their extremely high expressive potential, their ability to shape a vast territory is undervalued or even completely neglected. Even their construction, although a resource-intensive undertaking, often leaves no trace of itself in the tower architecture. Even it is concealed with inappropriate disguises that give the tower sculptural forms or emphasize technological aspects that do not belong to its character. We believe that the character of the tower should be entrusted to its construction (as is the case with the Velasca tower in Milan) and is what is made recognizable in the principle of superimposition: the superimposition of parts that are added to one another to gain the desired height. This is the principle we have placed at the basis of the design of the two tower buildings in Brescia, consisting of a steel structure in which, by emphasizing the horizontal planes, their overlapping is highlighted. In the reference urban plan, the volumes of the two tall buildings have such proportions as to suggest their decomposition into parts. Two open stair bodies divide each of the two volumes into three parts that take on different sizes: the two side towers have a building body that is half as wide as the body of the central one. This results in a strong axis of symmetry that emphasizes the unity of the building despite its tripartition. Each of the two volumes therefore consists of three towers and is placed on either side of a residential neighborhood so as to mark its entrance. A system of overlapping loggias open to the landscape further divides the volumes of the individual towers, making them slimmer at the top, intended for residential use.


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



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