CONTEMPORARY ALPINE YOUTH CENTER BY ENG GROUP
In the small mountainous town of Pieve di Bono-Prezzo in northern Italy, Trento-based ENG Group has designed the new Youth Center which doubles as a community space for all. Following the municipality of Valle de Chiese’s request for a new multi-purpose center that supports the local youth, and also strengthens relations within the entire valley community, ENG Group designs a multifunctional complex configured as a juxtaposition of superimposed units oriented in different directions but arranged in a unified composition. The titanium-zinc clad contemporary alpine structure which at first glance appears to be two separate buildings, combines functionality, practicability, flexibility of use and environmental friendliness to become an integral part of its surrounding natural environment and cultural community.
the design draws on the style of ancient Rhaetian dwellings typically found in many mountain areas in northern Italy
all photographs courtesy of ENG Group
a sustainable structure in NORTHERN ITALY TOWN
The multipurpose Pieve di Bono-Prezzo Youth Centre primarily serves as a regular meeting place for the area’s youth population, and also doubles as a space for occasional cultural, social, recreational, and aggregative initiatives open to the wider community. Architects Michele Bertagnolli and Michele Buizza of the Italian firm conceptualize an energy saving design where the landscape ‘cooperates’ with the structure’s overall energy balance. It also utilizes architectural solutions that are integrated in a context of marked functional and managerial flexibility. The building envelope on the upper floor, made of RHEINZINK titanium zinc in the surface quality prePATINA graphite-grey, is conceived as an active interface, a mediating element between the external and internal environments. It serves as a kind of regulatory and sensitive machine to optimize and rationalize energy and natural resources. The durable material holds sustainable properties and creates a high-quality and harmonious overall appearance.
the facade features large, energy saving windows which are in dialogue with the surrounding scenery
superimposed units mirror the functional flexibility
At first glance the Youth Center seems like two buildings in different alignment placed next to each other, but they are distinguished by a strong unity of design and spatial arrangement. ENG Group’s complex is composed of several superimposed, differently oriented but strongly unified units arranged on the northeast/southwest alignment. The body on the ground floor houses the bar-internet point functions, kitchen and rooms for youth activities. In this area, the dialogue with the rest of the community has been attributed to a portico that runs through the entire building. It is ‘symbolically configured as the ‘path’ of internalization of social reality that leads young people to the role of effective members of the community’, note the architects.
The northeast/southwest direction is partially contradicted on the upper floor by the orientation of the larger, protruding unit that looks towards the castle – meant as a symbol of its environment and its history – and by the two flanking, intersecting bodies that overlook the urban agglomeration, heralding the compositional values that are clarified in the interior spaces. At this level are three multipurpose halls which can be transformed into a single room with 202 seats, a foyer space, and multipurpose functional spaces providing organizational support for the initiatives taking place within. In the basement volume, various halls are used for municipal administration as well as technical and storage rooms. The center’s external area has been redesigned and diversified to provide a strongly unified space, with the creation of an area for social activities including games, dance, theater and sports.
the protruding volume on the upper level is clad in X-lam and titanium zinc
THE ITALIAN YOUTH CENTER RECALLS ANCIENT RHAETIAN DWELLINGS
ENG Group’s design for the building draws on the typology and style of the ancient Rhaetian dwellings typically found in many mountain areas in northern Italy. Such architecture sees the top floor with a wooden structure overlaid on a masonry load-bearing shell. Likewise the basement building volume and the emerging envelope on the ground floor of the Pieve di Bono-Prezzo Youth Centre are planned with a reinforced concrete structure, while the volumes on the upper level are designed with a wooden structural frame and pressed plant fiber.