The interfaculty university library in Brescia reuses and functionally redevelops the spaces of the Chiostri del Carmine (Cloisters), dating from the late fifteenth century, flanking the church of Santa Maria del Carmine.
The project frees the monastic complex from accretions and divisions introduced in first half of the twentieth century. This has restored the legibility of the historical stratification of the whole monumental complex, making it possible to traverse the city block through its sequence of cloisters.
The project consolidated the historical axis while underpinning the original convent system determined by the sequence of the former refectory, library and the crossing of the dormitories, also through the restrained design of the furniture, appropriate to the new uses, which maintains the atmosphere of a place of peace and study.
The interiors and cloisters have been enhanced by the discovery, made during the work, of frescoes from various periods, so establishing a valuable relation between art and architecture. In particular, the main reading room is characterized by the remnants of a fifteenth-century fresco of the Last Supper.
On the first floor, with access provided by a new staircase, the redefinition of the axis of the dormitory crossing, which originally separated the part for novices from that of the Carmelite Fathers, frees the “lantern” and recreates the existing system of the cells, which have been adapted as study rooms of different sizes. This axis is emphasized by the vaulted gallery, rebuilt in contemporary forms through a system of curved panels that provide glimpses of the wooden frame of the roof, in an interplay of ancient and new.
Photo credits: Archivio Riva Arredamenti, Donato Di Bello