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)


Piazza della Libertà, Via Moscheni e Via Garibaldi, Nembro (BG), Italy [45°44’37,7’’N -9°45’33,4’’E]


Arch. Andrea Gritti, Arch. Gianpaolo Gritti, Arch Pietro Gritti Structures: Ing. Lorenzo Imperato Plants: P.I. Alessandro Gelain, P.I. Massimiliano Bellini Acoustic consultant: SI. ENG Studio Associato



Grittiarchitetti – Teatro Modernissimo. Reuse of the former cinema Modernissimo and reform of the urban spaces in the civic centre of Nembro

PROJECT - Main Infos

PROJECT: Grittiarchitetti – Teatro Modernissimo. Reuse of the former cinema Modernissimo and reform of the urban spaces in the civic centre of Nembro

LOCATION: Piazza della Libertà, Via Moscheni e Via Garibaldi, Nembro (BG), Italy [45°44’37,7’’N -9°45’33,4’’E]

YEAR: 2010

ARCHITECT / FIRM: Arch. Andrea Gritti, Arch. Gianpaolo Gritti, Arch Pietro Gritti Structures: Ing. Lorenzo Imperato Plants: P.I. Alessandro Gelain, P.I. Massimiliano Bellini Acoustic consultant: SI. ENG Studio Associato

BUYER: Private. Gruppo Tironi

SURFACE: Gross surface area of public property 1.562 sqm (Modernissimo) Gross surface area of private property 2.363 sqm

PRICE: € 6.397.308,52

In 2005, the Municipal Administration decided to reconfigure the civic center of Nembro, reshaping the network of relationships and correspondences which originally united the buildings and the open spaces designed by architect Alziro Bergonzo. The two buildings, opposed along the short sides of the current Piazza della Libertà, were originally intended to house the Opera Nazionale Balilla and the Casa del Fascio. Later on they became the Modernissimo cinema-theatre, the first one, and the Town Hall, the second one. Between the two, similar in size and proportions, the Modernissimo is the work of greatest architectural interest, for the relations it establishes with the square and with the spaces of the historic center. The two floors of the Modernissimo occupy the northern front of the square, where the three arches of a monumental portico stand out, designed to evoke some famous scenes of metaphysical painting. The "grandiose building" conceived by Bergonzo underwent a rapid process of deterioration in the second half of the last century, culminating in its definitive abandonment. Thus, between 1980 and 2005, various design proposals followed one another, characterized by the idea of demolishing or altering the original architectural structure. Despite the succession of these proposals, the architectural complex has not been demolished and for this reason it has won a particular form of respect from local public opinion, which has finally resulted in a project of conservation, reuse and redevelopment. Singularly, the Gritti studio had already won a competition promoted by the municipal administration of Nembro in 1984, with a proposal inspired by the principles of safeguarding historically determined architectural values. Twenty years later that original intuition had the chance to be put into practice. The time that elapsed between the competition and the final commission was used by the studio to develop a greater awareness of the design theme, by public opinion to convince itself of the cultural values of the spaces designed by Bergonzo, and by the municipal administration to find a private partnership capable of subsidizing the project. With the recovery of the former cinema and the redevelopment of open spaces, the civic centre of Nembro has created a public space with a strong identity, completely pedestrianized and taken away from the circulation and parking of vehicles.

WHAT - Program

PREVALENT CONSERVATION / CONTINUITY: The functional program remains predominantly the original one, with a limited new program.

The project has created a dense programme of new civic functions: a 300-seat auditorium, a shopping mall, a pedestrian square and an underground garage. The qualifying element of the intervention is therefore the recovery of the "Modernissimo" as a new public space able to extend the Piazza della Libertà up to the Moscheni garden, through a linear system of foyers, galleries, steps, stalls and stages, incidentally arranged for theatrical use. The protagonist of the interior space is a large wooden arch, which houses the steps. Under its inclined plane are the services for the public, the dressing rooms for the artists and the storerooms. Above the entrance to the hall, a loggia houses the spaces of the director's office for the management of lights and sounds. The stage is designed to accommodate an orchestra of 60 elements or, alternatively, the equipment for carrying out conferences and theatrical events. Public access to the steps is from the upper foyer. In the lower foyer, a bar has been created that faces directly onto the space of the square. In addition to the recovery and reuse of the theatrical environment, an extension of the complex designed by Bergonzo has been planned. The new spaces have made it possible to multiply the pedestrian connections between the spaces of the historic centre, the new civic centre and the Piazza della Libertà, which has been entirely pedestrianised, thanks to the construction of an underground garage. Thanks to these interventions it is now possible to connect the civic centre and the stop of the new Tramvia Elettrica Bergamasca without interruption. These relationships are emphasized by the "accents" of the public lighting at night, which highlight the portico of the theater, the tanks for the trees covered in Istrian stone, the benches and intermittent jets of water of the fountains on the ground.

WHO - Financing

PREVALENT REPLACEMENT / DISCONTINUITY: Financing for a minor part made by the original owner, mostly from another investor.

The intervention of a private donor has ensured the obtaining of the necessary resources for the reuse of the former Modernissimo cinema and for the requalification of the open spaces of the urban civic centre, promoted by the Municipal Administration. In return, to support these public interventions, the private operator has obtained the possibility of creating a new architectural volume in the internal courtyard facing the Moscheni garden, integrated with the west wing of the former cinema-theatre of the Modernissimo. Here, commercial spaces have been created (on the ground floor), offices and/or residences (on the upper floors), and directional activities (at the level of the urban gallery located between the original building and its double height extension).

HOW MUCH - Absolute Dimensions


BALANCE BETWEEN CONSERVATION AND REPLACEMENT: The overall dimensions are about twice the pre-existing surface.


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

The project defined a capillary system of pedestrian connections from the level of the garage (underground) to that of the open public spaces of Piazza della Libertà and the Moscheni garden (above ground) up to the accesses to theatrical and commercial spaces (from the mezzanines arranged to the heights of the foyers). The new protagonist of the urban scene is the gallery with double height and mezzanine floor, created through the simple juxtaposition of the new volume with the building of the former cinema-theatre. The intervention is completed by an articulated system of porticos and loggias, which on the private side contrasts with the mainly blind fronts on the public side.

HOW MUCH - Relative Dimensions

BALANCE BETWEEN CONSERVATION AND REPLACEMENT: The new spaces are in balance with respect to the pre- existing spaces.

The aim of protecting and enhancing the building designed by Bergonzo has dictated a programme of interventions intended to preserve, as far as possible, the valuable architectural structures of the original layout in the former cinema-theatre. The conservation measures concerned the internal walls, the roofs, the external and internal coverings and decorative parts, the windows and doors, and the perimeter walls. The original layout has not undergone substantial changes, except for the distinction between stalls and galleries, which characterized the first cine-theatre, now transformed into a single space, more suited to the representations for which it is intended. The entire extension of the west wing is structurally independent from the original body of the work.

HOW - Design Strategy STRUCTURE

PREVALENT CONSERVATION / CONTINUITY: The supporting structure is mainly the original one.

The consolidation works of the original structures and those dedicated to the new realizations were inspired by the adoption of non-destructive and, mainly, reversible design interventions. In the theatre hall, where the original iron trusses were placed for the first time in evidence and interspersed with panels oriented to ensure the best acoustic response, there was a 300-seat staircase, made of bamboo wood and independent from the original structure. The stage has been preserved at its original height, while the dressing rooms under the stage have been reused to house technical equipment. The staircase in the entrance hall, which connects the lower foyer with the upper foyer, has been carefully preserved and its plastic values have been highlighted by the preservation project.

HOW - Design Strategy MATERIAL

PREVALENT CONSERVATION / CONTINUITY: The materials chosen for the new intervention show more similarities than differences compared to the pre-existing ones.

Exteriors of the former cine Modernissimo - With the aim of underlining the reciprocal material and spatial relations between the two buildings facing each other on Piazza Libertà, it was decided to preserve all the decorative parts, colours and textures of the original plasters, recovered thanks to careful sampling. The eaves frame, made of white cement, along the entire perimeter of the building, and the grooved pilasters on the front towards Via Moscheni have also been restored. Interior of the former cine Modernissimo - The steps and side walls are covered with bamboo wood. The wood is also used as a cladding in the foyers of the theatre and in the oriented panels hanging from the trusses of the hall. Piazza della Libertà flooring - The design of the square is characterized by an essential geometry that reveals a weave capable of emphasizing the relationships between the buildings originally designed by Bergonzo. The alternation of porphyry cubes and slabs of Istrian stone is punctuated by eyelets containing vertical water jets, thanks to which the square periodically takes the form of a large fountain. Seats along Piazza della Libertà - The seats are an integral part of the square's system of open spaces, since they define the edges of the square and integrate with the general design. Made of treated iroko wood and integrated with planters in Istrian stone, these elements are emphasized by a lighting directed towards the floor. The seats created in the Moscheni Garden use the compositional principles already used in Piazza della Libertà, to define some islands of aggregation, freely composed in the perimeter of the park.

HOW - Design Strategy IMAGE

PREVALENT CONSERVATION / CONTINUITY: The new intervention favors a relationship of continuity with the existing structures.

Overall, the reuse of the former cine Modernissimo and the reform of the urban spaces of the civic center has focused on the renewal of the dialectical relations between the existing and new interventions. Both have been granted full autonomy and recognition. The design of the open spaces and the elements characterizing the interior architecture have been used as tools to ensure a superior spatial integration between the parts that make up the project. Today, the Modernissimo, Piazza della Libertà, the Moscheni garden, the shopping mall and the underground garage are active parts of an extensive redevelopment of the urban centre of Nembro that has also involved other public spaces: the new Library (Studio Archea), the Market Square (Studio Italo Rota), the Museum of Coti Stones, the accesses to the river park (DAP Studio), just to mention the main ones. In some ways it is possible to say that in Nembro a project experimentation has been started, based on precise and unprecedented relations between elements already present in the settlement heritage and others destined to enrich it. The experience, promoted by a community strongly committed at the political level, is all the more significant because it is produced in a context that is normally the victim of settlement pressures induced by major urban areas.