New Cultural Center, Media Library ‘Il Pertini’

Location Cinisello Balsamo, Milan, Italy
Year 2001/2012
Client Municipality of Cinisello Balsamo Milan
Area / Volume 7.000 m2
Architectural design DOIT Architetti Associati Cristina Gagliardi, Riccardo Gaggi, Mariella Tesse, Luca Peralta, Fiorenza Polacchi
Structural design Proges Engineering S.a.s.
M.E.P. design AI Engineering S.r.l. , AI Studio
Photography Roland Halbe

Il Pertini expresses and emphasizes culture as the fundamental value for civil and convivial city life, strongly desired by the Municipality, contributing the new image of downtown Cinisello Balsamo. The building is partially built on the footprint of the former elementary school Luigi Cadorna that, unsuitable for its functional conversion into a cultural center due to particular degradation, was mostly demolished in 2001. The decision to convert the school into a cultural center gives the start to a long building process, beginning with the international competition won by DOIT in 2001. One of the major restrictions of the competition, was the preservation of the main facade of the old school, a building dating from 1910 whose image is still  alive in the historical memory of the inhabitants and becomes the main façade of the new Cultural Center. New spaces emerge behind and above this early twentieth-century façade, creating a dialogue between existing and new, between past and future. Thin shear walls in reinforced concrete are employed in oder to keep the existing school façade standing, emphasizing by contrast the thickness of the historic masonry walls. This structure is repeated along the preserved historic wall creating a series of ‘frames’ that generate and define the experience of the interior space. The transparency of the skin is the building’s message of free access to culture for all with books directly exposed to the city beyond the glass. The media library is open until late at night and the atmosphere is of common familiarity. The building acts as a neutral background to cultural and social activities designed to facilitate meeting and exchange of all, even non-readers. The building’s accessibility at different times of the day determines the evolution of the library towards a more dynamic and contemporary cultural model.