Dezeen Magazine

Studio Galantini rebuilds wooden frame of small Italian chapel

Italian office Studio Galantini has upgraded the wooden structure of a 1970s chapel in north-west Italy so that it can be used for summer services, music recitals and theatrical performances.

Sant'Anna's Chapel recovery by Studio Galantini

The Cappella Sant'Anna, or Saint Anna's Chapel, was first built in 1973 in the Italian hamlet of Torre del Lago, but had been out of use since 2010 after parts of the structure were declared unsafe.

Sant'Anna's Chapel recovery by Studio Galantini

In the summer of 2013 Studio Galantini took up the task of repairing the structure. "We were captured by the structural purity and by the formal simplicity of the chapel, qualities that totally integrate it into nature," explained architect Marco Biondi.

Sant'Anna's Chapel recovery by Studio Galantini

With help from structural engineer Renato Terziani, the architects replaced around half of the building's framework, which comprises three triangular frames and a series of supporting crossbeams. They also repaired the old steel fixings.

Sant'Anna's Chapel recovery by Studio Galantini

The original moss-covered roof was retained, revealing the building's true age. "The substitution of the overlay with new elements would have permanently damaged the harmony with the landscape, created by time going by," said Biondi.

Sant'Anna's Chapel recovery by Studio Galantini

The two ends of the chapel remain open to expose the interior to the elements - a feature of the original design by engineer Vardemaro Barbetta. Barbetta named the chapel Sant'Anna, after the mother of the Virgin Mary, but also after the name of his own mother who initiated the project.

Photography is by Paolo Del Freo.

Here's some extra information from Studio Galantini:

Galantini's Firm: Sant'Anna's Chapel recovery

Galantini's Firm in Pisa, with the support of Renato Terziani as structural engineer, was involved in the recovery project of the Sant'Anna Chapel. The work was shaped around the full philological and compositional rightness and sensitivity, paying particular attention to the usage of technology and careful intervention techniques.

The chapel arises in the Lagomare residential complex that is located at Torre del Lago, Viareggio's hamlet (LU). It stands inside the "Parco Naturale di Migliarino San Rossore Massaciuccoli" area, very close to the sea.

Sant'Anna's Chapel recovery by Studio Galantini
Plan and side elevation - click for larger image

The Church, consecrated to Sant'Anna, was built on the engineer Vardemaro Barbetta's project in 1973, following the engineer's mother will whose name was Anna. The architectural work is highly characterised by the structural work: three gantries are settled by two balks that statically frame a three hinges portal. The hinges are made of steel and they are placed at the foot and at the top of the structure, resolving the work architecturally and structurally.

Because of the ageing of the wood in 2010 the structure was considered unsafe and declared not accessible, notwithstanding an offhand and structurally decontextualised past recovery action. A support for the balks, made by steel sections and welded batten plates, set up a mixed load-bearing structure.

The recovery work began in April 2013 and finished the 8th of August. The work was designed with no compromises: the technical complexity of the work was accepted to preserve the compositional integrity of the structure and the physics of the materials. The landscaped value of the overlay was preserved too, because of its integration with the surrounding pinewood.

Sant'Anna's Chapel recovery by Studio Galantini
Sections - click for larger image

This accomplishment was reached recreating the wooden parts and recovering the mechanical essentiality of the steel hinges. To accomplish that project, the work was realised suspending the structure using a scaffolding specifically designed for that aim; moreover the scaffolding was able to bear the efforts and the load transmitted during the substitution of the ground bases and of the degraded wooden parts.

Project: recovery of Cappella Sant'Anna

Designer: Studio Galantini

Engineer: Renato Terziani

Constructor: Antica Toscana

Client: Parrocchia di San Giuseppe

Location: Torre del Lago, Viareggio, Lucca

Completed: 2013