The House of Benozzo
I was quite flattered when municipal administration called on me to design this little museum for housing the two Tabernacles of Benozzo Gozzoli, but at the same time I felt the weight of responsibility bear down on me.
Works from the past have always touched me because of their fragility. To arrive to our times, they must have been loved a great deal by many people. They passed from hand to hand, caressed, constantly cared for.
The two Tabernacles and their associated sinopia paintings had waited a long time in the rooms of the local public library, and a building needed to be made that would host them once and for all.
This required the demolition of a 1960s-era building on via Testaferrata, which is located within town limits near the railway station, next to the little Saint Charles Oratory.
The new building project traces the outline of the old factory, with a total surface area of approximately 400 square meters. It has the good fortune of being located in an opening, a sort of small square, so that it remains detached from surrounding buildings.
The foundation of the building sits on the ground in a way that resolves the interior design issues in the classic sense (benches, flower pots, etc.). The curvi-linear base appropriates the space, and visitors appropriate a bit of the museum at the same time: the base itself becomes benches, playful spaces for the adults and the little ones, an open theater for little events.
The image of the building as a whole reaches beyond the trendy to resemble something more traditional - a little bit boxy, a bit factory-like. Finished with terra cotta brick walls, the materials and the finishing recall some of the churches of the zone and touch on memories from the past.
Inside, the building is divided into three floors. Part of the ground floor is characterized by a low ceiling: a shadowy atmosphere that opens suddenly towards the full-height portion where the tabernacle of the Visitation is displayed, illuminated by a cascade of natural light from the windows in the ceiling. Inset on the corner wall of the first floor, the tabernacle of the Madonna of the Cough presents itself like a television screen.
The stairway connecting the different floors becomes a sort of visual journey that frames the decontextualized Tabernacles from new and continuously changing perspectives. The voyage is briefly interrupted on the first floor, only to re-start on the opposite side to reach a small hall on the second floor, a space naturally suited for small shows and didactic laboratories.
Thanks to its modest dimensions, the building preserves a touch of the domestic - a home studio just right for Benozzo Gozzoli, surrounded by his apprentices, to show us the laborious process of executing these frescos.
Arch. Massimo Mariani