RECOVERY OF THE CLOISTERS OF
ST. PETER

INTERVENTION OF THE DISUSED BENEDICTINE MONASTERY IN THE HEART OF REGGIO EMILIA

architects: ANDREA ZAMBONI - MAURIZIO ZAMBONI
firm: ZAMBONI ASSOCIATI ARCHITETTURA

Abstract:

The project concerns the recovery of the Cloisters of St. Peter’s, a disused Benedictine monastery in the heart of Reggio Emilia, with the objective of creating a cultural-innovative centre there, strengthening the natural and strategic vocation of the complex. The project involved three closely related interventions in a single operation: the restoration of the monumental body, the addition of the Urban Open Laboratories, and the recovery of the courtyard areas connected to the monastery as public spaces returned to the city.

PREVIOUS SITUATION

An obsolete reading of our cities contrasts historic centres, a place of preservation, with the suburbs, a place of more arbitrary building replacement. It rarely happens to be possible to realise a project that contemplates central city locations.

The complexity of conservation intervention together with the challenge of building replacement, urban regeneration and the rediscovery of public spaces. The project involved the rebirth of the most important monumental complex in the historic centre of Reggio Emilia, a disused military area and as such long inaccessible in the heart of the city. The financing derives from the Por- Fesr Emilia-Romagna 2014-2020 programme Axis 6 “Attractive and participated cities” with the objective of triggering development processes of territorial vocations, creating new employment and inclusion opportunities starting from the recovery and enhancement of the cultural heritage.

WORK CARRIED OUT

The challenge was grafted onto the particularity of the complex, a disused monastery and, as such, for centuries a place circumscribed within its cloisters, with the aim, on the contrary, of returning it to the city. The project involved three closely related interventions in a unified and conceptually coherent manner, reinforcing the natural vocation of the Benedictine monastery for the creation of a cultural-innovative pole of international relevance. The first involved the restoration of the Renaissance monumental body, partly attributed to Giulio Romano, as a cultural venue of excellence. The second involved the addition on the site of the demolished minor bodies dating back to the military occupation, of the new building destined for the innovation of the Urban Open Laboratories, defining the completion to the north of the complex and in continuity with the adjacent old Stables, also restored as an integral part of the Laboratories.

THE END RESULT

The third intervention concerned the redevelopment of the courtyard areas formerly connected to the monastery, as public and relational spaces returned to the city, also rediscovering their role as urban crossroads. The valorisation of the unfinished, interpreting what Giulio Romano was unable to complete in the Chiostro Grande – the heart of the complex – has become the methodological criterion and conceptual filter of every choice concerning the entire complex. In search of a balanced relationship between the ancient and the contemporary, between rediscovering spaces and installing new compatible uses, in the articulation of the three interventions the project combines the multiple factors of regeneration – economic, environmental, cultural and social – taking up, in the choice of new functions, the Benedictine matrix capable of combining conservation with innovation. Winner of numerous awards, just a few years after its reopening the complex is now an extremely dynamic place, the driving force behind numerous initiatives that have made it an essential part of the city.