Greve in Chianti: MDU architects' New Library

Solidity and lightness to evoke and re-read the elements of the Chianti landscape

by Malcolm Clark
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The new Civic Library of Greve in Chianti, designed by MDU architetti, is located in an area undergoing urban renewal, previously occupied by disused industrial buildings, at the entrance to the town, near the river Greve.

The project investigates the possibility of evoking and re-reading elements of the landscape through architecture: Chianti is a "mental" as well as physical landscape, an internationally famous landscape, very often frozen in a stereotyped icon.

The architecture of the library incorporates the "deep" elements of the landscape, trying to grasp its aesthetic essence: the parallel signs of the rows of vines, which form backgrounds of different intensity creating visual vibration on the Chianti hills, are recreated in the project as an abstract geometry of lines and intensity of light and shade, emphasized by the use of a single material, terracotta.

The architectural image of the Library is based on two themes: the “solidity” of the base, made up of travertine blocks and the “lightness” of the overlying terracotta volume. The base looks heavy, durable, solid, but inside there is a large double height entrance hall, the information and lending desk, whereas a tall two-storey shelving divides this space from the administration office and from other rooms intended for cultural and recreational activities. Upstairs, inside the terracotta volume, there is the reading room, which overlooks the floor to ceiling central void, ensuring the performance of various functions in separate but visually communicating areas.

In the reading room, the dosage of natural light and its diffusion in a harmonious way, is through the use of “brise soleil” walls made with terracotta elements. These walls are full of slits, textures, and rhythms of light and dark, giving life to a fascinating material change that enriches the overall image of the building. A particular treatment that makes the upper volume look like a large “terracotta lace”, capable of holding and reflecting light according to a variable rhythm on the basis of the articulation of the walls on the different sides of the building and on the basis of the outdoor weather conditions. As the sun goes down, the brick volume lights up inside and reveals its texture of voids and hollows, appearing like a large “lantern” throughout the territory.

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    Biblioteca di Greve in Chianti 54

    Biblioteca di Greve in Chianti

    Greve in Chianti / Italy / 2011