Maurice Nio, Founder, NIO Architecten, Rotter dam
The Pecci Center gets a futuristic spaceship like extension making the museum all the more functional & attractive to the visitors.
Objective of Extending & Re-Designing The Museum
Endowing the Center for contemporary art Luigi Pecci in Prato with a new cultural energy, capable of expressing itself both through the contents of the exhibits and through its built spaces. This energy will engage the territory thanks to a new architecture, which was conceived so as to provide the pre-existing structure with new functions, to double its surface area, to establish new relationships between the museum and the city, between art and the regional territory.
The Pecci Center began life in 1988 and was the first institution in Italy specifically built from scratch for exhibiting, collecting, conserving and documenting the most advanced artistic research. Conceived by entrepreneur Enrico Pecci and donated to the city in memory of his son Luigi, the Center was built with the support of several founding partners, including the Municipality of Prato, the local industrial association, Cassa di Risparmio di Prato, and a large group of private citizens: a rare Italian example of collaboration between public institutions and private patrons.
Its mission was promoting sensitivity towards emerging art- both national and international- by means of temporary exhibits, didactic activities, shows and multimedia events. The Pecci Center boasts a unique collection in Italy with over 1.000 works by leading international artists: from Anish Kapoor to Jan Fabre, from Jannis Kounellis to Sol LeWitt, as well as the great Italians of the last century, such as Mario Merz or Michelangelo Pistoletto. A patrimony regrettably sacrificed in the storerooms for a long time due to a lack of exhibition space.
The Space Extension
To ensure that these assets be given due recognition, in the early 2000 the Pecci Center decided to double its exhibition space and, at the same time, renovate the original building by Gamberini, some aspects of which had become critical and obsolete.
The enlargement works, funded by the Municipality of Prato and the Region of Tuscany (through European Funds), started in 2006 and focused on the construction of a new wing with strong architectural impact, connected to the original building, whose functions and services were redeveloped and upgraded in the meantime. The Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Rome supported the birth of the new building.
Once the works are complete, the complex will cover a surface area of almost 10,000 square meters, and in addition to the exhibition spaces there will be an archive and a specialist library with a holding of over 50,000 volumes, an open-air theater with 1,000 seats, a cinema/ auditorium with 140 seats, a performance space with 400, a bookshop, a pub/bistro and a restaurant, in addition to workshops and various meeting rooms.
And, after almost thirty years of activity, the Pecci Center doubles. In two ways: it extends its building and expands its cultural program. These two initiatives are deeply related as they result from the same objective: endowing the Center for contemporary art Luigi Pecci in Prato of a new cultural energy, capable of expressing itself both through the contents of the exhibits and through its built spaces.
This energy will engage the territory thanks to a new architecture, which was conceived so as to provide the pre-existing structure with new functions, to double its surface area, to establish new relationships between the museum and the city, between art and the regional territory.
The Steel Antenna
It is set to become an international reference point for the experimentation of multiple contemporary art languages. In October 2016 the Pecci Center reopens after the completion of the futuristic spaceship-shaped extension by Rotterdam-based Indonesian architect Maurice Nio, titled “Sensing the Waves,” and the renovation of the original building designed by Rationalist architect Italo Gamberini.
Nio’s project intends to favor the permeability between the center and its territory. The existing building is entirely maintained and left completely intact. A new volume in the shape of a ring, that traces over the contours of the original surrounding garden, is oriented towards the public dimension. Thanks to the new entry, the bookshop, and the restaurant, all located in the transparent ground floor, the Center turns to the outside, stimulates curiosity, invites interaction, opens itself to the city, with an experimental garden and a large piazza as a buffer.
The highest point of the whole complex is reached by a sort of antenna which is capable, on one side, of representing the will to sense the new forms of creativity which are pulsing in the territory, on the other side it reveals the important presence of a venue that will promote them.
The architect says, “The antenna is first of all a symbolic element. The name of the project is ‘Sensing the waves’ and the antenna signifies a museum that is capable to receive and transmit the vibrations of the present times. The antenna also has practical functions as it is useful to protect the structure in case of an earthquake.”
Ever since the early design phases, Maurice Nio chose a highly evocative title for the new building: Sensing the Waves, suggesting its function as a receptor (and perhaps even transmitter) capable of capturing and disseminating the vibrations of the present time.
Underneath the antenna, a new map of functions and routes links the original building by Italo Gamberini to the one designed by Maurice Nio. The project is based upon a deliberate modification of the exhibition functions which are now revealed to the outside by means of the realization of an ambiguous, unexpected, unusual object that can be interpreted in many different ways.
The subtle and reasoned language seems to go beyond the current international trend of realizing art centers as big urban icons. By confirming its attention towards the international scene and by strengthening its link to the territory, the Centro Pecci is today undertaking a new important objective to be carried on for the next decades.
Project name- Centro Pecci Prato (The Pecci Center), Italy
Architect- Maurice Nio, Founder, NIO architecten, Rotter dam for new extension & Italo Gamberini for renovation of old construction
Reopened- October 2016