Variation of modes of use: functions, users, schedules, etc.

Relationship between the ownership and the form of the investment that allows the transformation

Variation of the overall dimensions of the building

Proportional relationship between new spaces and existing spaces

Relationship between the structural adjustments and the existing structure

Relationship between the forms and types of pre-existing materials and those of the new intervention

Relationship between the image of the new and the image of the existing (mimesis / contrast)


Ponte San Pietro, Bergamo, Italy


Cesare Rota Nodari architect



Cesare Rota Nodari architect – Municipal Library in Ponte San Pietro (Bergamo)

PROJECT - Main Infos

PROJECT: Cesare Rota Nodari architect – Municipal Library in Ponte San Pietro (Bergamo)

LOCATION: Ponte San Pietro, Bergamo, Italy

YEAR: 1982

ARCHITECT / FIRM: Cesare Rota Nodari architect

BUYER: Municipality of Ponte San Pietro

SURFACE: 1.700 sqm

PRICE: € 2.250.000,00

The headquarters for the new municipal library of Ponte San Pietro in the province of Bergamo was originally planned, in 1982, in the wing of a historic building on the border with the Town Hall. Inappropriate location: next to a large, noisy square for markets and fairs; inopportune: the distribution on multiple levels, the fragmentariness and the smallness of the available spaces; insufficient lighting openings. Onerous the intervention for the structural plant. Any possible extension is impossible. The type of library that was envisaged is that of open space, according to the American model of "public library": without barriers, with shelves directly accessible to the public, renewable and expandable according to the dynamics of places and times. Difficult model, still unpublished in Italy, despite the popularization efforts made by De Gregori in the 30's, due to the resistance linked to the aristocratic conception of the library. Difficult model due to the risk of unpopularity and the typological characteristic it requires. An old industrial factory of the 800, unsafe and almost disused, owned by the city, located in Piave street, bordering the school complex of the historic center, with the addition of the spaces acquired in the adjacent historic building ("Stal Lonc") of Piazzini street, it was the most suitable for the case. A disputed and difficult approval process comes to an end thanks to the foresight and consistency of the Administration. In 1984 the restoration and furnishing works of the new library space were completed, which in 2003 expanded with the recovery of the entire nineteenth-century factory and an ancient, prestigious medieval complex that was destined to an exhibition space and historical archive. The total area of the library, which in the meantime has become the "System Center" for the libraries of a vast area of 180,000 inhabitants, is of approx. 1,700 which guarantee the library all the main operational functions adequately proportioned and easily identifiable in the plans. In particular to the canonical functions foreseen for a library, of this level and importance, were added those of the permanent exhibition of the collection of paintings by Vanni Rossi, of the custody and consultation of the precious municipal historical archive, of the meeting room.

WHAT - Program

TOTAL REPLACEMENT / DISCONTINUITY: The new functional program has completely replaced the original one.

The type of library that was envisaged is that of open space: without barriers, with shelves directly accessible to the public, renewable and expandable according to the dynamics of places and times. The reuse of the old industrial factory of the nineteenth century, called "Alluminio" for its primitive destination, in use at the Legler cotton mill in the 1930s, and subsequently the REDA knitwear factory, finally home to the technical office and municipal warehouse, was the most appropriate for the case. The building was now unsafe and almost in disuse. There are three buildings in which the library structure was built in two stages (1983-2003): 1 - the two-story building on Piave street; 2 - the actual factory, intended for activities of different types up to that of storing municipal motor vehicles, was strongly characterized by the typical wooden shed structure with large skylights and by the internal cast iron columns characteristic of all the industrial buildings of that period; 3 - a tower and the first floor of a fourteenth-sixteenth century building forming part of a group of structures called "stal lonc" in Piazzini street, adjacent to the factory, a likely home of a wealthy gentleman or a captain of fortune, as they would like to testify the typology to fortified court and the frescos, of rare civil subject, that represent soldiers, weapons, friezes and coats of arms.

WHO - Financing

BALANCE BETWEEN CONSERVATION AND REPLACEMENT: Balanced financing between the original owner and another investor.

The entire building is owned by the Municipality of Ponte San Pietro, which carried out the work using its own means and public funding.

HOW MUCH - Absolute Dimensions


PREVALENT CONSERVATION / CONTINUITY: The overall dimensions increase moderately with respect to the pre-existing surface.


TOTAL CONSERVATION / CONTINUITY: The overall dimensions are equal to the pre-existing volume.

The most significant increases on the surface concern the internal mezzanines, made possible by the height of the existing building and very appropriate to increase the useful floor area even if only slightly. The entire volume has been preserved.

HOW MUCH - Relative Dimensions

PREVALENT CONSERVATION / CONTINUITY: Pre-existing spaces are prevalent with respect to new spaces.

The completely renovated building on Piave street is destined for reception of the library with a meeting room on the first floor. The surface of the entire factory was renovated and used as a library-reading room with the creation of new spaces on the mezzanines. In the historic building, the existing spaces have been confirmed and used as exhibition halls and historical archives.

HOW - Design Strategy STRUCTURE

BALANCE BETWEEN CONSERVATION AND REPLACEMENT: The supporting structure is composed in a balanced way by pre-existing structures and new structures.

The structures have been faithfully reconstructed, for the building on Piave street, replacing the floors to adapt them to the new loads; for the factory consolidating a part of the perimeter wall, reusing the existing cast iron columns and rebuilding the roof structure in wood. The structures relating to the historic building have been preserved in their entirety as they were the subject of a previous restructuring.

HOW - Design Strategy MATERIAL

BALANCE BETWEEN CONSERVATION AND REPLACEMENT: The materials chosen for the new intervention balance similarities and differences with the existing ones.

The intervention largely respects the original material structure, integrating the original bearing structures with reinforced concrete pillars and reusing part of the existing cast iron columns. In the remaking of the roof, both the roof and the sheds, very functional for zenithal lighting, have been reconstructed with the same materials, dimensions and shapes as the existing ones. Laminated wood beams and roofing tiles in Marseilles type tiles like the existing ones were used for the roof structure. The floors are spherical; the windows are in wood for the building in Piave street and the historic building, in aluminum for the factory.

HOW - Design Strategy IMAGE

BALANCE BETWEEN CONSERVATION AND REPLACEMENT: The new intervention balances elements of continuity and discontinuity with respect to existing structures.

Three criteria adopted in the intervention: - the maintenance of only the front on the street of the Piave street building; - the conservation or faithful reconstruction of the existing wall structure and the most important connotative aspects, such as the planimetric structure, the masonry, the cast iron pillars and columns and the shed wooden roof, the skylights; - the respectful recovery of the ancient structure and the tower, already consolidated previously, completed with floors, doors and windows and with the plants mainly in view, also because they are less invasive. The most significant new interventions concern: internal mezzanines, made possible by their height and extremely suitable to increase the useful floor area; the long zig-zag glass wall cut out in the lower part of the inner wall on the south side, towards the internal corsello; training on Piazzini street of the metal structure covering the lay-by and acting as a hinge for the release of the various functions (exhibition hall, historical archive, library, lift, loft); the realization of the open passage between the streets Piave and Piazzini, very useful and suggestive for the counterfeit of the ancient wall, woven of stone and brick, and of the glass wall that puts the library "in the window". The strong marking of the new design elements, both for the design and for the material (iron and concrete) and the colors (red and blue and yellow) is dictated by the intent to date and connote the new, to guarantee, without misunderstood compromises, reading and recognition of the pre-existing