Nuova Chiesa Parrocchiale - Medolla (MO)

A new church for earthquake-hit Medolla

A contemporary interpretation of the place of worship but in keeping with the Christian tradition
Santino Limonta
Paola De Pietri
Marazzi Architetti
Année de réalisation

The earthquake that struck Italy’s Emilia region in May 2012 was unexpected and violent, devastating buildings and places of worship. After the first major shock, Medolla, one of the worst hit towns, declared its parish church unfit for use. The second large shock of 29 May extinguished all hope of restoring the building. There were simply too many unknowns – technical and economic considerations, aspects of seismic safety, timeframes and procedures. So what was to be done? After considering the various options, parish priest Father Davide Sighinolfi decided to build a new church, assigning the project to architect Davide Marazzi. But what could he do to ensure that it would be accepted by a community that was strongly attached to the old church? « When tackling such unusual projects, we architects often indulge in flights of fancy » commented Marazzi. « The approach we opted for in this case was that of sobriety. We chose a very simple contemporary structure with an elementary geometry. The new church looks like a hut. Some people have even called it a house, which we find reassuring as this fits in closely with our interpretation. From the point of view of its massing, it has a classic, easily recognisable single-nave and pitched-roof layout in keeping with the ecclesiastical tradition. As for its design, the north-facing façade has a large window that enables the church to communicate with the outside world. On the east and west sides, large vertical openings allow light to penetrate inside. Natural light, the central theme of this project, is bright enough for the purposes of illumination but is softened by the curtains and the surrounding greenery, so it is never aggressive or disturbing. » A prefabricated wood structure was chosen as the construction technology. Columns, beams and slabs were cut to size and partly pre-assembled in the factory, leaving only assembly to be done on-site. « The technology was chosen in close cooperation with the priest. In view of the specific time and situation, we realised that wood might be the best solution in terms of seismic safety, energy saving and speed of construction. » The energy required for the structure is provided by two air source heat pumps, which have a zero cost because they are balanced by photovoltaics. Effective air-conditioning (heating, cooling and relative humidity) is provided by a radiant floor panel system that uses sensors to determine the various levels of occupancy. A major study was conducted to design the artificial lighting system, which is adjustable in intensity both inside and outside. At night, light shines out through the windows into the surrounding spaces, creating a truly striking effect. A major contribution to the warm overall atmosphere is made by the ceramic tiles from Mirage: Lab 21 series for the internal floors, TriBeCa series for the ventilated facades and Evo_2/e series for the exterior pavings. The church was opened on 29 May 2013 after just eight months of construction.

Mirage: LAB21, TRIBECA and EVO2 series
porcelain stoneware
60x60, 60x120 cm
Caractéristiques techniques
Water absorpion (ISO 10545-3): ≤ 0,05%
Chemical resistance (ISO 10545-13): UA ULA UHA
Resistance to deep abrasion (ISO 10545-6): ≤ 175 mm3
Stain resistance (ISO 10545-14): compliant
Frost resistance (ISO 10545-12): compliant
Modulus of rupture and breaking strength (ISO 10545-4): ≥ 35/N mm2
Slip resistance (DIN 51130): R11
Thermal shock resistance (ISO 10545-9): compliant
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