This project stems from reflection on the urban system of empty rooms in the center of Brescia. In fact, the sequence of squares starting from Piazza del Mercato, through Piazza Vittoria, arriving in Piazza della Loggia, is denied coming off Largo Formentone. The sheer presence of a scarcely used canopy robbed this place from being called a square. The project for a building in this plot rises from the idea of creating twin-squares: one in front of the building, and one above its ground floor.
The new reading room of Largo Formentone aims to become an important hub in the life of Brescia center. The denial of monofunctionality calls different types of people. First of all university students, who now experience great difficulty finding a comfortable place to prepare for their exams; a place that can help them concentrate, but also to make contact with companies and firms based in the province, thanks to a public employment agency office (DUC) on the ground floor. In addition, a large elevated square which will host exhibitions and from which will be possible to admire the view of the Loggia, will allow a large number of citizens to live and visit this new public hub.
In the building different worlds coexist. The first, the ground floor, consists of three hard and impenetrable elements, which contrast with a very fluid space and public permeable surfaces. The second is a generous "cabinet of urban politics", placed at a level high enough to allow to change the usual perspective on the Loggia. This large exhibition room becomes a meeting place open to social dialogue, where a decorated curtain unveils striking views on the historic center of Brescia. The third world is muffled: designed to grant the students maximum comfort and concentration, it also provides different degrees of protection. Depending on the location choice, either the reserved or informal reading rooms, it's possible to find the highest degree of protection from the outside.
This tripartition allows optimal management of the building: every function is at the same time highly visible and independent, allowing various opening schedules for the different areas. One Sunday morning, the city may reclaim this space by organizing a temporary exhibition in the central level, while other rooms may be isolated and closed.
The difference between these three worlds depends also on different temperatures and energy that each one of them needs: the required temperature in the reading room will be higher than the one in the exhibition hall.
The distribution of functions assigns reading 60% of the total area, 30% for exhibition space and 10% to DUC agency.
Starting from this partition, the distribution of the different "environments" was first articulated to ensure maximum flexibility of use, and secondly to provide the user the highest degree of comfort. The percentage of space devoted to reading was divided into a "family of environments". A ground floor room for student meetings, which conveniently at different times may also provide an opportunity for citizens to meet and discuss. At the top floor are two reading rooms. One, more spacious, with seats for hundred people, is regulated through artificial lighting, with a number of sensors able to perceive the changing needs. The niches on the south side of the building, with the possibility of being isolated, offer great flexibility according to the needs of students. The second space on the second floor is a less conventional "living room", overlooking the roof garden. Here groups of students may practice group work or find magazines in consultation.
The DUC agency spreads throughout the ground floor, where the offices of administrative staff are coupled with a space devoted to information and meeting between companies, students and citizens.
Finally, the percentage of the exhibition space stands in "noble floor". The richness of this "fake exterior", which leans towards the urban landscape, allows an unforgettable exhibition experience.
The building energy management relies on high thermal insulation, direct use of passive solar energy with windows to the south, west and east, and combined action of natural and mechanical ventilation with heat recovery. The heating system consists on a cogeneration plant for production of thermal and electrical energy, radiant heat floor operating at low temperatures, and natural light and high efficiency lamps to illuminate environments, managed through an automatic adjustment of lights.
The exploitation of the thermal mass of the building, shadows control and the management of external climate phenomena contribute significantly to proper building energy consumption, achieving the dual goal of reducing energy expenditure and increase comfort conditions of confined environments.
There's the maximum exploitation of natural light, which primarily represents the best condition for the perception of images (the best performance in the perception of colors) and secondly reduces the use of lighting fixtures, which in turn produce undesired heat. This aspect is very important both in the reading room and exhibition space, where a careful study of the lights can certainly improve the quality of the interior space.
1 › DUC space
2 › Associations space
3 › Info Point
4 › A/C system
The south windows are protected by a double layer of glass with different degrees of opacity that reduce the effect of summer sunlight but do not prevent entry of winter sunlight.
Natural ventilation is achieved by placing grids and apertures operable within each environment, linking to "collectors" represented by the main walkways.
The lobby is a "chimney" that, thanks to a mechanized opening and closing system, remains open during the summer for the exploitation of natural ventilation, creating a spontaneous outflow of hot air, while in winter closes and provides a "cushion" against the penetration of cold air in the spaces inhabited daily. A valuable contribution to energy saving lighting is the adoption of automatic control, start and stop points of light (brightness and presence sensors, control systems).
First Floor + 3.60m
5 › Exhibition space
6 › Bar
Second Floor +8.00 m
7 › University Reading room
8 › Unformal reading room
9 › Roof garden