The nineteenth-century complex of Ghetti Palace

The residence and the match factory Rimini / Italy / 2013

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Historical notes In the years around the Italian Unity (1861), between the few industries of Rimini there was the Nicola Ghetti’s match factory, that in 1866 has more than 350 workers, mostly women. Established in 1837 in a different location, it was definitively moved in a dedicated building into San Giovanni District in 1857. The building includes the factory and the mansion of Ghetti Family; it had been designed by architect Giovanni Benedettini, who worked together with architect Luigi Poletti at the realization of Galli Theatre in Rimini and who designed other important buildings in town. The match factory was considered all along the nineteenth century a very advanced building, because of its technological and sanitary equipments. Once dead Nicola Ghetti, the factory began to decline, it went in crisis with the unfavorable economic situation of the late nineteenth century that affects the whole industrial structure of the town and finally was sold in 1896. In 1908 it ceased the activity. In the Twenties the complex was entirely converted to residential use, divided in flats, with stores and workshops at the ground level. This situation lasts till the Nineties, with complete neglect and decadence of the building; in 2000 the Municipality of Rimini, became owner of it and arranged the only residential wing, in order to turn it into offices. In 2005 Banca Malatestiana – C.C. – S.C. bought by auction the whole complex and in 2007 started an integral scientific restoration, with the aim to realise its new headquarter. The restoration (2007-2013) The scientific restoration project of the buildings, authorized by the competent Superintendence for Architectural Heritage and Landscape of Ravenna, had two purposes: on the one hand, the recovery of the urban significance of the complex through the re-establishment of an entire block of San Giovanni District and the reopening of the public passage through it, from the main road, XX Settembre Street (the ancient Via Flaminia), to the end of the historical inland on Circonvallazione Meridionale Street; on the other hand, the rediscovery of the original configuration of the singular set consisting of the bourgeois home of the entrepreneur and the productive buildings. The three wings of the factory were in a state of disrepair and showed the urgency of consolidation works, radical and challenging in relation to the wide variety of the used structural types, which have been matched by a corresponding multiplicity of technologies and techniques of intervention. Due to the nature and characteristics of the buildings, the structural elements are strongly characterized and representative of the typological-structural evolution occurred between the mid-Nineteenth century and early Twentieth century; they, in fact, constitute essential data for the recognition of the stages of growth of the complex. The consolidation and integration of the different structural types existing in the buildings have been faced through the creation of works that constitute a systematic counterpoint, placing itself in dialectical confrontation with the original elements, depending on the case in the direction of integration and a reconstruction of missing or damaged serial parts, or by the inclusion of new and complementary elements, clearly legible and recognizable in their nature. For example, in the South wing, some brick vaults had collapsed as a result of earthquakes, fires and wars: it was decided not to replace the collapsed vaults with others built with the same technology, but rather to allow the reading of the new intervention through a contemporary and recognizable language. Therefore, new vaults were made in order to preserve the perception of the internal space but using different materials than those lost: planks of larch wood with iron hoops in the extrados and iron ribs in the four sides and in the diagonals (see photos in panel 2). In the North and East wings, for the consolidation of the vaulted brick ceilings, it was decided to replace the compromised beams with new larch wood laminated ones, shaped like the original, and then similarly coated in plaster on reeds, faithfully replicating the traditional technique; as the roof wooden trusses of the North wing roof, however, we chose to get these beams using the training dentures to replace the deteriorated heads and inserting telescopic iron struts and a system of steel cables, tensioned on iron plates, in order to adapt the old loads to the burdens required by law (see photos in the panel 2). Even in this case, the choice was to make the intervention recognizable. The project involved the recovery of the original internal spatial perception by removing the Twentieth century accretions and by creating a new partitions system, functional to the new destination, that doesn't touch the soffits of the floors and roofs above it, allowing the seamless reading and keeping the visuals free as much as possible. All new partitions were made on design and conceived as a lightweight walls organic system, built with "dry" technology (see photos and details in panel 2); these characteristics have allowed us to reduce the loads of the partitions, to ensure the reversibility of the intervention and to distinguish sharply the new partitions from the historic masonries. The interiors are characterized by a route that serves all the parts of the complex, though as a real connecting system, both horizontal and vertical. This route has been designed as a ring-way with wide corridors and waiting areas, frequent sights towards the main courtyard, the vacuum that represents the core of the architectonical organism. A system of lightly inclined ramps, together with the new lifts, make the building usable by persons on wheel-chair, exceeding the law prescriptions. All the historical staircases have been maintained and restored, integrated in the ring-way. In the consciousness to need spaces for all the activities of the new destination of the complex as a bank, almost all the technical functions have been excluded from the rooms of the historical building, placing them, whenever possible, out of it. This strategic choice drove to realize a new underground level only for plants below the great rectangular courtyard, in the middle of the complex: this collocation permitted to the new underground not to increase the volumes, resulting structurally independent of the historical walls, having its own dedicated access. The main consequence of the construction of the new underground level has been the excavation in its area, devised as the result of as great open air archaeological research, under the scientific direction of the Archaeological Superintendence of Region Emilia-Romagna. The excavations allowed to acquire important elements for the reading of roman and medieval settlements in San Giovanni Quarter and to find out the rests of the medieval city walls, including a polygonal tower. The important findings are permanently exposed in a little museum, realized at the ground floor of the Palace under the direction of the Archaeological Superintendence. Trough findings, models and graphic reconstructions, the exhibition documents the history of the construction of San Giovanni Quarter from the foundation, over a roman necropolis (III – IV cent. a. C.) along Flaminia road, till the Middle Ages (see images in panel 1). By the analysis of the surfaces of the external walls it has been possible to find out and reply the original finishing and colours of the Palace and bring to light and restore the paintings under the main staircase; unfortunately, all the other original plasters (and then the paintings over them) in the inside had already been removed during previous restorations; so for almost all the original painted ceilings, but the only two ones remained at the ground level, which have been newly carefully restored. The new floorings have been conceived in the Venetian way, a traditional mix of coloured binder and marble pieces, present in two original rooms remained at the ground level, even if heavily violated. The Venetian flooring has been employed in two different types: one with Verona red marble in coarse grain and binder of the same colour, in order to characterize the rooms of the residential wing; the other with grey and white marble in thin grain and grey binder, to distinguish the rooms of the factory and reaffirm its identity of production site. The colours of the internal walls, with a basis of lime and neutral colours, have been chosen to define sober working spaces, with no showy decoration. The new windows reproduce the duality factory-residence: single leaf in iron in the factory and double leaf in larch wood in the residential wing. The colours of the external walls, they too with a basis of lime, reproduce the original look: mono-chromatic light ochre for the factory, with red-orange smoothing mortar for the mouldings, three-chromatic for the residential wing, in light yellow, crimson and sky-blue, recovering the chromatic counterpoint of all the decorative elements.
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    Historical notes In the years around the Italian Unity (1861), between the few industries of Rimini there was the Nicola Ghetti’s match factory, that in 1866 has more than 350 workers, mostly women. Established in 1837 in a different location, it was definitively moved in a dedicated building into San Giovanni District in 1857. The building includes the factory and the mansion of Ghetti Family; it had been designed by architect Giovanni Benedettini, who worked together with architect Luigi...

    Project details
    • Year 2013
    • Work started in 2007
    • Work finished in 2013
    • Main structure Masonry
    • Client Banca Malatestiana_Credito Cooperativo
    • Contractor Icles S.r.l.
    • Status Completed works
    • Type Office Buildings / Recovery/Restoration of Historic Buildings / Restoration of façades / Structural Consolidation / Recovery of industrial buildings
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